THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Backblaze

Unlimited Backup


Posts tagged with "instapaper"

ReadKit: Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability Client For OS X

After Michael Schneider, creator of Read Later, joined the Pocket team to release the official Pocket app for Mac, I wondered if there was a real need for a “read later” (lowercase) application for the desktop:

I’m still not completely sold on the overall concept of a desktop read-later app. I’ve got used to thinking of “read later” as a inherently mobile state of mind. I “catch up” on articles and videos with my iPhone and iPad. The Mac is were I discover stuff. I guess a desktop app can be seen as an add-on, a companion to the main experience.

Looking around for alternatives that would work with the service I use on a daily basis for text articles, Marco Arment’s Instapaper, I was not impressed with Words:

Unfortunately, while promising, Words isn’t there yet. Words looks decent when it’s focused on text (generated by the Instapaper parser) in full-screen mode, but everything else is pretty buggy, unstable, and unfinished.

ReadKit, a new app by Webin released today, is – finally – a solid piece of software for those who have been looking for a desktop version of their favorite read later service. ReadKit, in fact, works with Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability, therefore covering the most popular third-party read later services. The app costs $1.99, and if you want to use it with Instapaper, you’ll need the $1 monthly subscription. Read more


From Instapaper and Pythonista To Dropbox and Evernote As PDF

I’ve already expressed my preference for archiving webpages as PDFs rather than simple “bookmarks” on an online service. When I come across a webpage that I know I want to keep for future reference, I like to generate a clean-looking PDF file with selectable text that I can rely on for years to come.

Lately, I have become obsessed with turning longer articles I find on the Internet also into PDFs for long-term archival. For as much as I like Instapaper, I can’t be sure that the service will be around in the next decades, and I don’t want my archive of longform and quality content to be lost in the cloud. So I have come up with a way to combine Instapaper with the benefit of PDFs, Dropbox, and automation to generate documents off any link or webpage, from any device, within seconds.

Yesterday I put together an iOS and OS X workflow to generate PDFs remotely on my Mac, starting from a simple bookmarklet on iOS. On an iPhone or iPad, I can simply hit a button in Safari, and wait for Pythonista to turn a webpage (that’s already been passed through Instapaper’s text bookmarklet) into an .html file in my Dropbox, which is then converted to PDF and added to Evernote. It sounds complex, but in actual practice I can go from a Safari webpage on iOS to a PDF in the Evernote app in around 30 seconds. Hopefully you’ll find this quick solution useful; feel free to modify it and/or send suggestions. Read more


Words: Instapaper Client for Mac

Words: Instapaper Client for Mac

Last week, I stumbled across a Mac app called Words, which is a desktop client to access your Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability “read later” lists. Especially following Pocket’s acquisition of Read Later, I thought it was appropriate to post my impressions of the app after using it with my Instapaper account for the past week.

Unfortunately, while promising, Words isn’t there yet. Words looks decent when it’s focused on text (generated by the Instapaper parser) in full-screen mode, but everything else is pretty buggy, unstable, and unfinished. Sync fails often, reporting incosistent errors for actually-correct account information; there are no font options to control the text’s apperance, or keyboard shortcuts to navigate the app; the window’s width can’t be resized (it only supports height), and the sidebar with tags (I assume they are tags, though I never created those) often “gets stuck” on a black background. There are no sharing options, no additional menus, no support for Instapaper’s Archive or Liked items. Just the Unread list, and it doesn’t even work well.

Even Instapaper is spelled as “InstaPaper” in the app.

The Words developers say they’re working on fixes and improvements, and I’m looking forward to trying Words again in the future. But at $5.99, I can’t recommend it right now.

Permalink

Automatically Send Articles From Reading List to Instapaper

Two days ago, Ben Brooks asked on App.net if anyone had come up with a way to share Safari Reading List items to Instapaper. His question made me realize that it would be a fun project to find out, so in my free time I put together a workflow that runs automatically and in the background on my Mac mini.

Please note, what follows is a raw experiment. I have tested it, and it works, but it’s far from stable. It uses GUI scripting in AppleScript to mark Reading List items as read, and it heavily depends on iCloud, which, unfortunately, is far from reliable when it comes to bookmark syncing. Nothing should happen to your bookmarks (the script simply “reads” them), but backups are recommended, as usual. Read more


Turn URLs and Webpages Into PDFs In Your Dropbox

I stumble across a lot of interesting webpages on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s a video I want to watch later; sometimes it’s an article I don’t have time to read right away. Other times, I find a webpage that I want to keep around for future reference. For me, there’s a difference between articles to read later and reference material: whereas a new item added to Instapaper has a short life span in terms of attention (read, share, archive), a webpage I want to keep around forever needs to be turned into a document I can read anywhere, highlight, annotate, and carry around between platforms and devices. For that, I like PDFs.

I keep a “PDFs” folder in my Dropbox that contains all the documents I check upon regularly for work and personal purposes. They can be eBooks, tutorials, or guidelines from Apple that are essential to my writing online. Thanks to the increasing support for cloud services in apps like PDF Expert, GoodReader, and iAnnotate, I can keep a single copy of a PDF in my Dropbox, use the app I want to annotate the document with, and forget about duplicates thanks to sync. Furthermore, I’m fairly sure that, due to their popularity, PDFs will still be readable and supported 20 years from now, so I don’t have to worry about data preservation and file formats.

Lately, I have become obsessed with turning longer articles I find on the Internet also into PDFs for long-term archival. For as much as I like Instapaper, I can’t be sure that the service will be around in the next decades, and I don’t want my archive of longform and quality content to be lost in the cloud. So I have come up with a way to combine Instapaper with the benefit of PDFs, Dropbox, and automation to generate documents off any link or webpage, from any device, within seconds.

(Disclaimer: what follows is an explanation of a hack I created for personal use. It uses publicly available tools and apps to fill a personal need. You shouldn’t create PDFs off websites and redistribute them – you should support the sites you read instead).

In short, I use the Instapaper Text bookmarklet to fetch a webpage’s text and images (while preserving hyperlinks and great typography) and I convert the resulting page to PDF using wkpdf. Created by Christian Plessl, wkpdf is a command line tool that uses WebKit and RubyCocoa for rendering HTML content to PDF. Since wkpdf uses WebKit’s HTML rendering, it can generate good-looking PDFs that maintain most CSS2 and CSS3 stylings and properties. I have tried another command line tool for file conversion, Pandoc, but I like wkpdf better for straight HTML to PDF conversion. Read more


Instapaper’s Background Update Locations

Instapaper’s Background Update Locations

Last night, Instapaper was updated with a major new feature: Background Update Locations. Here’s how it works:

Now, with Background Update Locations, Instapaper can automatically download new articles whenever you enter or leave locations such as your home or workplace. Visit the Settings panel to set it up. (Requires an iPhone or 3G/4G-equipped iPad.)

I have been testing the feature this afternoon, and while I couldn’t get it to work initially, I think I have figured it out. Basically, Instapaper uses iOS geofencing to determine when you enter or leave a location (you can store up to 10 locations inside Instapaper). The geofencing, however, isn’t really precise, as granularity may vary, and it could be based on a combination of cell tower strength and triangulation. Having tried geofencing with Apple’s own Reminders, I can attest that location-based alerts were already problematic in my town; so my guess is that today, when I couldn’t get Instapaper to download items in the background, the issue was with geofencing in Viterbo – definitely not with Instapaper. I have noticed that some locations in my town just won’t fire off the geofence; I have no idea why this is happening, and I hope Apple fixes it in iOS 6 (perhaps through their new fancy mapping service).

Fortunately, Instapaper’s Background Update Locations are now working with the place I care about – my house. I was able to leave, drive around town, and then I found articles waiting in my list, already downloaded. It’s a really nice option to have, and I’m glad Marco was inspired by News.me to implement it.

Get Instapaper 4.2.2 from the App Store.

Permalink

Instapaper 4.1

In my review of Readability for iOS, I wrote:

I think there are various important points to stress: the Instapaper app has been around for years now, and with the recent 4.0 update it solidified the strong feature set offered by Arment which, quite honestly, is still unsurpassed. Put simply: you can’t do all the things you’re able to do in Instapaper with the new Readability app. So, if you’re really used to Instapaper’s pagination settings, Friends discovery, sharing options and app integrations, you might want to consider staying with Instapaper.

I am one of those users that, for a number of reasons, are glad to stay with Instapaper. When it comes to my reading list, I invested too much time in building a personal archive of articles I enjoyed that I feel uncomfortable switching, after years of usage, to another service. That was the most difficult part of writing my Readability review: to be able to take an objective and balanced look at the app – which, again, I believe is a very good one – while knowing that I would stick with Instapaper. But it’s okay: unlike some people, I don’t see competitors as “enemies”, and healthy competition ultimately leads to more innovation. Omitting the inelegant words of other people that only show a lack of grace when it comes to respecting your competitors, I think Readability and Instapaper can coexist. And as I wrote, I do hope that Readability can figure out a better way to manage its payment platform for publishers. I like and use Instapaper, and in my perfect vision of the software scene everyone would just work hard silently and strive to one-up a competitor, with class.

Last night, Marco Arment released a 4.1 update to Instapaper. You can find it on the App Store, and the app also comes with Retina assets for the new iPad, if you got one yesterday. Perhaps more importantly, at least for me, Instapaper 4.1 adds a series of improvements and design refinements that only make an already fantastic 4.0 version even better. Read more


ReadNow 2.0 Keeps your Instapaper and Read It Later Articles in One Tidy App

If you like to read Instapaper and Read It Later on your desktop through your web browser, why not give the second iteration of ReadNow a try? No longer a menubar application, ReadNow 2.0 was built from the ground up to feel like a native OS X application from the start. Based on traditional RSS apps, ReadNow organizes your Instapaper and Read it Later articles for offline access, optimizing articles for a cleaner reading experience on your Mac. ReadNow features a custom article view that let’s you style the article, change the line height and article width, and customize the font. Archiving and liking articles in the app will push those changes to the respective service in realtime. Unlike your favorite iOS apps, ReadNow lets you drag and drop articles into folders and tags to quickly move them from the reading list. You can currently share articles you find interesting to Twitter, Facebook, Pinboard, Delicious and Evernote from within the app. With support for multitouch gestures, search, and tag and folder management, ReadNow gives you access to Instapaper and Read It Later in one easy-to-use application.

An Instapaper subscription is required to use the service with ReadNow. ReadNow is $3.99 on the Mac App Store.


Instapaper 4.0 Available: Completely Redesigned iPad UI, New Features, Search Subscription

Since I started using Instapaper in 2008, this app has changed the way I read. Instapaper 4.0, released today on the App Store, will change my reading habits, again.

For those who are not familiar with the concept of Instapaper, it’s a web service that allows you to save web articles for later. But unlike the number of similar solutions that have surfaced since Apple featured the app multiple times (or simply its merits, which have been recognized by millions of average users alike), Instapaper isn’t simply a website with an account, a bunch of text stripped off websites, and a bookmarklet to grab articles. Over the years, Instapaper’s Marco Arment, founder and creator of the service, has managed to build an ecosystem around Instapaper, which is based upon but doesn’t stop at apps connected to the service via an API. Apps that support Instapaper play a big role in the service’s success and Arment even showcases this kind of integration in the new 4.0 version, but what really made Instapaper great is its simplicity coupled with publishers’ support, user adoption, multi-platform nature, and interconnectedness of tools that has allowed Instapaper – once a small indie project churning out a couple of thousand articles per day – to become the most popular way to never miss a good read.

Instapaper works on the web, on the Amazon Kindle with automatic wireless delivery, and on Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The foundation upon which Instapaper works and prospers is the Read Later bookmarklet, a button you can install in your browser’s toolbar to send any webpage off to your Instapaper account. Instapaper, however, works best with articles, as its main goal is to provide users with an elegant way to read the words of an author without seeing ads, graphical elements, or readers’ comments. Just text. In this regard, Instapaper works like magic: you hit a button, and any web article is transformed into an elegant, readable, easy on the eye page that you can customize to your liking with different fonts, pagination and brightness settings, or “dark mode” if you prefer white text on black while reading at night.

And I have been reading with Instapaper at night. Since the original iPad came out last year, pretty much everybody had a feeling the device could turn out to be ideal for reading, but no one really stopped to think about the implications of a device for Instapaper before the iPad’s release. When Apple did release the iPad and a native version of Instapaper was available on day one, it was clear Apple’s form factor and Arment’s UI decisions would play well together in the long term.

I’m not the only one to think Instapaper nears perfection on the iPad. In fact, I’m not even the only one to think the iPad edition of Instapaper has redefined portable web reading since its introduction in April 2010. Amidst the proliferation of social magazines, RSS readers, social news readers and more or less any other variation of the terms “social” and “reading”, Instapaper for iPad provides a unique solution to a seemingly unfixable problem: to create your own collection of web articles, ready to take wherever you want. A collection – or, if you will, a constantly updating combination of inbox and archive – that’s also connected with the articles your friends like and the pieces written by people you trust.

On the App Store, Instapaper started as an iPhone app. The app, featured in a great promotional video with Adam Lisagor, introduced iPhone users to the concept of “saving articles for later” – if you, too, have had too many interesting articles in your web browser and have wished there was a way to take them with you all the time, here’s the app for you. The video made it extremely clear that all you needed was a bookmarklet to hit, and an article would appear later on the web, or even better, on your iPhone. Instapaper for iPhone is a fantastic app; it updates fast, it’s elegant, it focuses on articles as it should be, and it gained a number of cool functionalities over time such as pagination, Twitter sharing, and Evernote integration. Yet, as this 4.0 update suggests, it’s clear Instapaper for iPad has somehow overshadowed its iPhone counterpart, making it the version to use when you can’t access your computer or iPad. Read more