Pitched as an alternative to web-based RSS readers, such as Google Reader and Bloglines, and desktop clients like NetNewsWire, Fever° purports to “take the temperature of your slice of the web and show you what’s hot”. Unlike many web-based RSS readers, Fever° is a PHP/MySQL application designed to be installed and run on your own web server. It costs $30 to license for a single domain.
There are many reasons users might prefer a self-hosted RSS reader, from maintaining privacy to creating branded, curated or customized news aggregation for clients and other third-parties.
Installation & Configuration
Prior to purchase, you’re asked to install a simple PHP script on your server that checks for compatibility and verifies a connection to your MySQL database.
Once these checks are passed, you can click through to a purchase screen and have an activation code automatically inserted into an installation form. Fever° then uses your database credentials and activation code to install itself from Fever°’s servers; a seamless process that other app developers could learn a thing or two from.
The Hot List, Kindling & Sparks
Fever° differs from other hosted and self-hosted RSS readers — including PHP RSS Reader and GobbleRSS — in that the user experience isn’t focused on simply displaying RSS feeds serially, but also in attempting to make some sense of the incoming content.
You can either add RSS feeds manually or by importing an OPML document, and feeds can be marked as “Kindling” (essential feeds) or “Sparks” (supplemental, low signal-to-noise feeds).
Fever° groups similar stories from your feeds into a “Hot List” of must-read items. This list can indicate what’s hot right now or at any given point in the past.
Your set of feeds can also be browsed and navigated directly, though the interface quickly becomes cluttered as new panels open containing lists of feeds and clicking on a story takes you to a page, rather than an in-line RSS display.
Fever° also heavily pushes its support for the iPhone. Indeed, the mobile interface seemed to be better suited to more casual at-a-glance usage. Handily, Fever° also works well with the Mac’s Fluid site-specific browser tool, enabling it to be packaged as a standalone desktop application.
I spent several days using Fever° in place of Google Reader and found the app to work well, present a polished and well-designed user experience, but ultimately found no more insight into my news sources or any sense of enhanced productivity.
The ability to understand what’s currently and previously “hot” could be a powerful feature, particularly when you’ve been away from your feeds for a number of days and simply want a summarized “catchup”. However, in reality I found my hot list to be dominated by clusters of Vimeo, YouTube and Foursquare stories — interesting, but not my real priorities. The “hot,” “kindling” and “sparks” metaphors just seemed a little too contrived when simple priorities could suffice.
Ultimately, for users wishing to host their own RSS reader, it’s a low-cost and capable tool. But for those wishing to create RSS readers and aggregators for others, it’s perhaps better to await Google’s addition of Reader to the Google Apps suite or utilize a public account coupled with an extension such as Feedly.
Sadly, there isn’t an online demo, but you can watch a comprehensive screencast of Fever° in action.
Let us know what you think of Fever° below.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Report: The Real-Time Enterprise