Fun with Google Reader JSON files

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So if you haven’t heard already, Google Reader is shutting down on July 1, 2013.  However, until then, you can take your data out using Google Takeout and you’ll have all your subscriptions and starred, liked, and shared articles.  The problem is that the article lists are JSON files with a custom schema that there aren’t (as far as I know) any user-friendly parsers for, so I made one.

Stella runs entirely in your modern, standards-compliant, HTML5 FileReader API-supporting Web browser (you are using one, right?) and lets you view any Google Reader article list in JSON format, including your starred, liked, shared, and notes lists, as well as any subscriptions you’ve exported in JSON format (more on that in a minute).  All you have to do is click “Select JSON file”, select your file, and start reading!

Stella also lets you save a static HTML page which you can view offline.  The page will also contain an exact copy of the JSON file you selected (with HTML special characters escaped).  (Clicking “Static page” will only give you a Save As screen in a few browsers, notably Chrome 14+ and Firefox 20+.  Other browsers will show the static page in a new tab, and you’ll need to right-click the link or page and choose “Save Page/Link As” to save it.  Also, saving static pages will only work at all in browsers that support the Blob API (look under “Blob() constructor”).)

It’s worth noting that Google Reader JSON files do contain the full contents of each article, and Stella does let you view those.

The source code to Stella is available on GitLab and is released under the X11 License.  If you modify the JavaScript or CSS files, run make to regenerate the stella.combined.{js,css} files; otherwise, you won’t see your changes.

Exporting feeds (or folders) as JSON files

(Permalink to this section)  Now, I mentioned earlier that you can export your subscriptions as JSON files as well.  This also exports the article contents.  This is insanely useful as Google Reader keeps an archive of EVERY ARTICLE EVER POSTED IN THE FEED, even if they were posted after you subscribed to the feed (but after at least one person has done so), even for feeds that have since been removed by their publishers.  This is one thing that I’ve really loved about Google Reader, and I’m thrilled to learn that you can export every article ever posted in a feed that has been subscribed to in Google Reader.  Oh, and it works for folders, too!

To export a feed or folder as a Google Reader JSON file:

  1. Open the subscription in Google Reader.
  2. In the URL in your browser’s location bar, replace “/view/#stream/” with “/api/0/stream/contents/”. So, for example,

    would become
  3. Add ?n=999999999 to the end of the new URL.  If you skip this step, it would only give you the first 20 or so articles in the feed, although it appears that there’s still a limit of one thousand articles.  If your feed has more than 999,999,999 articles (which would be insanely unlikely), you would want to increase that number.
  4. Hit Alt+Enter to open the JSON file in a new tab.  From here, you can right-click and choose “Save Page As” to save it, but be sure to give it a filename that ends in “.json”.
  5. (Optional) Open the file in Stella!

I cannot stress enough that if you want to do this, and/or export your starred, saved, shared, and notes lists, you MUST do it before July 1, 2013, as that is the date that Google Reader shuts down.