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Mozilla plans to remove RSS feed reader and Live Bookmarks support from Firefox

A recent entry on Mozilla’s bug tracking website [email protected] indicates that Mozilla plans to cut RSS feed reader and Live Bookmarks support from the organization’s Firefox web browser.

After careful consideration of various options (which also included doing nothing, or investing heavily in updating the code), we’ve decided to go ahead and remove builtin feed support from Firefox.

Mozilla’s current plan aims for a removal of both features in Firefox 63 or Firefox 64, out October or December 2018. The change won’t affect the current Firefox 60 ESR version but the next Firefox ESR after Firefox 60 ESR won’t support both features anymore as well.

We published an overview of Live Bookmarks in 2014, but Firefox supported the feature for much longer. Live Bookmarks allowed Firefox users to subscribe to a site’s RSS feed so that new articles would be displayed in a bookmarks folder in the web browser.

firefox live bookmarks tip

Feed Reader support on the other hand displays a special subscribe page when users loaded Feed URLs directly in the browser.

It included options to subscribe to the feed using Live Bookmarks or external applications, and it displayed the parsed feed on the page.

Why is Mozilla making the change?

Mozilla analyzed usage of the functionality, the technical implementation and state, maintenance costs, and state of traditional RSS feed usage on the web.

The organization discovered that Live Bookmarks and RSS feed reader support “had an outsized maintenance and security impact relative to their usage”. Improving these features and test scenarios would “have cost significant time and effort”, and current usage of “these features doesn’t justify such an investment”.

Live bookmarks and feed viewer are not “offering features users want” according to Mozilla. The organization refers to live bookmarks not supporting any states like read and does not really work well with sync. Furthermore, both features are not supported on Android or iOS, and podcasts are not supported either.

Mozilla discovered that the vast majority of Firefox users, 99.9% according to the organization, don’t use the functionality at all. Additionally, Mozilla notes, that RSS/Atom has been in decline and support has been dropped by companies such as Google (Google Reader), or Apple (Apple Mail), or changed focus.

Mozilla is working on alternatives such as Pocket or Reader Mode, and on improving WebExtensions which could provide features related to RSS/Atom feeds without the toll on maintenance.

What happens to existing Live Bookmarks

Firefox will export all existing live bookmarks to an OPML file automatically to preserve the subscriptions. All live bookmarks are changed to regular static bookmarks if Mozilla can identify the site URL. Live bookmarks will be removed if it is not possible to to do.

Mozilla plans to display information to users about the change and provide suggestions in form of options that users could follow to continue consuming feeds.

Tip: Check out our list of free RSS readers for Windows.

Closing Words

Live Bookmarks are used by a dedicated group of Firefox users, and while the group may be low compared to the group that does not use the functionality, removal will impact the workflow of those users.

Firefox users who don’t want to lose access to Live Bookmarks functionality may switch to Firefox ESR 60 but that is only a temporary solution. Browsers like Pale Moon won’t cut support while others, Waterfox or SeaMonkey, have not made an announcement yet in that regard.

Now You: Are you impacted by the removal?

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