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Helvetireader 2

Helvetireader², the minimal & anti-social theme for Google Reader, is now out. Sort of. It’s an unfinished and ongoing project, but it’s in a ‘ready as it’ll ever be’ state.

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Helvetireader is simply a hosted user stylesheet for Google Reader served via a user script. It aims to make the interface a clean, minimal experience where you’re not assaulted by an array of colours, lines, social features and buttons. As it removes these bits, and is designed for the expanded view only, you may not like it.

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It’s a very selfish approach, but I don’t have the spare time to cater for everyone’s requirements. So, feel free to grab the CSS and alter it to your own needs. Everything that’s been removed (via display:none) can be found at the end of the stylesheet. All I ask is that you don’t redistribute it without a credit, as it’s been a lot of work to get to this stage.

Helvetireader 2 has been rewritten from scratch, resulting in smaller CSS file. The aim is to get the maximum effect from changing as little as possible. Hopefully it will break less in future Google Reader updates! You can follow progress on twitter to know when you need to refresh your browser to get the new version.

Here's Helvetireader

Back in June, I talked about Helvetireader, a new approach I was taking to skinning Google Reader. Instead of making it look like an OS X app, this time I was going for minimal, inspired partly by Times, a newspaper style RSS reader, and the postcards that came with the (Deluxe!) Helvetica Film DVD.

As there’s always so many other things to do, it’s only now that I’m announcing it going live. First, here’s a small screenie:

I’ve removed a lot of stuff from the interface that I never use, so it’s not going to suit everyone. If it does suit you – great, if it ‘doesn’t quite’, you can take the CSS and fiddle and personalise to your hearts content!

I’m trying a different delivery system this time around. One of the things that made the previous theme feel like a burden were the different versions that needed to be upkept. Then I would feel guilty about clogging up my blog with news about any updates. Not this time.

Helvetireader is a hosted theme. To use it, you need a browser with user script functionality, which means Opera or Firefox out of the box, or a WebKit browser with the GreaseKit haxie applied. Camino doesn’t yet support user scripts, but you can download the CSS file and apply that manually if you like (see instructions below). This means that when there is an update to the theme, all you need to do is refresh, rather than download anything. It also means all I have to is update a single CSS file.

Before you install, you might want to set up Google Reader to be on expanded view, and check your view settings. After you install, these options will be hidden!

I’m not sure how it’s going to work out bandwidth wise, but I’m going to try it out as an experiment. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll maybe look into Git or SVN as a way of providing updates.

So how will you know when to refresh? By following the twitter feed. You can also use @replies for feedback. While requests to reinstate UI that I’ve hidden will be probably be answered by “take the CSS and change it to suit you”, I’m always interested to hear your thoughts.

That’s enough waffle for something that be used by 10 people at the most – head along to the Helvetireader site if you want to try it out.

Camino users

If you do use Camino, then you’ll need to download the CSS file and add the following around it:


@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);
@-moz-document url-prefix("http://www.google.com/reader/view/"), url-prefix("https://www.google.com/reader/view/") {
...css here...
}

And put that in your Library > Application Support > Camino > Chrome > userContent.css file.

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