End nears for RSS? Firefox 64 to drop built-in support for RSS, Atom feeds, says Mozilla

Mozilla to kill off RSS features in Firefox because they're hardly used and would take too much effort to modernize.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Firefox maker Mozilla will kill off support for RSS and Atom feeds in this December's release of Firefox 64.

Along with dropping RSS and Atom syndicated-feed support, Firefox 64 will no longer contain the Live Bookmarks feature for subscribing to RSS feeds, nor the feed-preview feature.

Instead of maintaining built-in RSS support, Mozilla believes users should install RSS-reader Firefox add-ons.

"After considering the maintenance, performance and security costs of the feed preview and subscription features in Firefox, we've concluded that it is no longer sustainable to keep feed support in the core of the product," wrote Gijs Kruitbosch, a Firefox front-end developer.

"While we still believe in RSS and support the goals of open, interoperable formats on the web, we strongly believe that the best way to meet the needs of RSS and its users is via WebExtensions."

Mozilla's support page for Live Bookmarks now contains a link to a page detailing feed-reader replacements for Firefox.

Mozilla also points to its own Pocket content discovery app as an alternative, which incidentally got a new Amazon Polly-based text-to-speech feature that reads out text from subscribed pages.

Kruitbosch outlined the plan to remove feed support on Mozilla's big tracking site in July, as reported by Ghacks at the time.

According to Kruitbosch, "These features have long had outsized maintenance and security costs relative to their usage", which amounted to 0.01 percent of sessions.

The technology underlying the features also didn't mesh with Mozilla's expectations of Quantum, Mozilla's big redesign of Firefox.

Live Bookmarks shortcomings include that it doesn't work well with podcasts or sync, and it doesn't work at all on Mozilla's mobile browsers.

"They don't even understand if an article has been read or not, arguably the most basic feature a feed reader should have," explained Kruitbosch.

"In short, the in-core RSS features would need both a major technical overhaul and significant design and maintenance investments to make them useful to a meaningful portion of users."

Mozilla's move follows Google's recent decision to drop RSS feed subscription URLs from Google News. Google of course killed its own RSS reader in 2013, while Apple dropped RSS from the Mac Mail app in 2012.

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