Replacing Firefox live bookmarks

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  • keywords:
    • software
    • firefox
    • python
    • rss
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I use Firefox as my web browser and I use it's live bookmarks feature to subscribe to RSS (and Atom) feeds across the internet. When Firefox 64 was released Mozilla announced that they would remove the live bookmarks feature rather than continue to support it (apparently it used it's own XML parser).

I realise that RSS (and Atom) feeds are dying a slow death on the internet (because content providers are slowly realising that they allow users to access content whilst side-stepping tracking cookies and avoiding advertising revenue) but I feel that Mozilla could have put a little bit more effort into maintaining this feature. Mozilla should not care about how other websites publish their content - by removing the feature in Firefox they will contribute to the downfall of RSS (and Atom) feeds as fewer people will use them. Anyway, Mozilla did produce an article about how to migrate your data to a different app or a Firefox add-on: What happened to my live bookmarks?

Personally, I decided that this wasn't the path for me. I was already inconvenienced by the Firefox app on Android/iOS not supporting live bookmarks anyway so I decided to write a Python script to check my feeds and email me about new articles. This way I would always get notified no matter what device I was using (as long as I could access my emails). Additionally, the Python script keeps a record of which articles it has already emailed me about so that it doesn't email me about them all again just because it was run again (this means that the Python script can be run as part of a Cron job).

You will see that the script has a few neat features, such as:

The JSON file that it uses as a database is shown below.

You can see that it is a simple dictionary (or associative array) where each key is the URL of the RSS (or Atom) feed and each value is a list of the article URLs that have been emailed to-date. If you want to add a new RSS (or Atom) feed to the script then you can just define the key with an empty list and run the Python script again.