RSS to PDF Newspaper Update

In March I posted about the RSS to PDF Newspaper service I’d been working on as part of the Five Filters project. The reaction from users has been great. It has been bookmarked over 450 times on delicious, even appearing on the front page for a while as a popular site. It has been featured on Download Squad, WebResourcesDepot, MakeUseOf and many other sites and blogs. It’s also had a lot of interest from teachers since Richard Byrne posted about it on his Free Technology for Teachers site.

I’m also happy to see so much interest from people who publish content in languages other than English. If you read Italian, Alberto from WebFandom compares the service to HP’s Tabbloid. If you read Spanish, Andres from ElGeek has written about it. If you read French, Stéphane from Technofeliz describes the service and offers a few suggestions for improvement. It’s also been covered by Camille in Presse Citron. If you read Greek, mcsotos from Ars Longa describes how it can be used by teachers. If you read Japanese, there’s a post on moongift—it looks like I still have work to do to support some languages. If you read German, Matthias Schuetz has a blog post on it while Jürgen Vielmeier is more critical, arguing that blog content is just not going to be interesting for anyone in printed form—he points to the failure of The Printed Blog as an example. The Brazilian site Olhar Digital created a video showing users how to use the service:

The overall response has actually surprised me. RSS to PDF is not such a novel idea in 2009. The main difference with this particular service is the availability of the source code—it means anyone can integrate it into their blog or website without having to rely on a third party.

To answer some of the critics, this service wasn’t created to encourage people to print more and it shouldn’t be compared to The Printed Blog. A few people have pointed out that services such as Tabbloid clearly benefit HP (the company behind the service) as they also make money from selling printers, ink and toner and any service which encourages you to print more is going to make HP more money. Well, I’m not HP and I don’t work for a company trying to sell anything. But the fact is reading lengthy content on a monitor is difficult. In a piece titled “In Defence of Print” Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, suggests people who publish on the web should

generate two version of all long web documents: one that is optimized for online viewing (is chunked appropriately into many files and has plenty of hypertext links) and one that is optimized for printing (has good layout and is in one piece). The print file should probably be in formats like PostScript or PDF. It is extremely important to denote any such files as being for printouts only and always supplement them with links to the same content in HTML for online viewing by users who want to browse or search a small part of the document.

The problem is that not everyone has time to do this. So services that can take long documents and optimize them for printing can be quite helpful.

Finally, the focus of the Five Filters project is to make some of the excellent non-corporate sources of news available online more accessible to people. One way to do that is to offer the content in an easy to read newspaper-like format for people who prefer to read the content away from the computer, or simply for people who don’t have access to a computer or the internet. Another way is to make it easier for people to find the content in the first place. That’s going to be another area that I’ll be working on when I get a little more time.

Let me know what you think. If you’ve used the service or simply have a comment, leave a message below.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for your link Keyvan!!!

    I appreciated!! If you want, follow me on twitter or Facebook!!