wallabag, a read-it-later cloud service

wallabag is an open source project that allows me to capture web pages, much like Pocket and Instapaper. Unlike most other read-it-later type services, you can host your own wallabag instance on your own server or a shared server. wallabag includes features and an ecosystem that may not be quite as developed as its commercial competitors, but seem more than adequate.

wallabag – it’s wallabag, not Wallabag – lets you use it on their server for free. I don’t know how they do that, there are no ads, this is generous of them. I used their hosted wallabag to check it out and make sure that it met my needs. I was disappointed that it would not successfully import my 900+ articles that I’ve saved to Pocket/Instapaper over the past few years. But it seemed to work just fine for adding new articles.

This is what I was looking for:

  • easy to add a page from Firefox, both on my desktop and on my phone
  • an Android app or a very good mobile-friendly web app
  • full-text search and tags
  • options for exporting and sharing articles in various ways
  • ability to integrate with services like IFTT so that I can move articles into other services, like Evernote
  • all under my control, not at the whims of some company that could fold or decide they need to make more profit or support the latest UI trend

wallabag meets all of these needs and more.

Based on my experience with the Framabag hosted version of Wallabag, I may need to keep my historical collection of articles in Pocket (and not Instapaper, because I would have to pay in order to get search capability). Alternatively, I could come up with a way (a Python program, most likely) to trickle the URLs into my wallabag instance. But my main use case for a tool like wallabag is relatively short-term curation of articles to read at my leisure. Anything that I want to save for posterity, I can move into Evernote.

wallabag supports three RSS feeds: unread articles, archived articles, and favorites. I can use the favorites feed with an IFTTT recipe to copy articles into a different environment – for me, it would be Evernote.

Naturally, I installed the Android wallabag app on my phone. Although I could not login to my wallabag on framabag, even with all permutations of host URL, when I use my self-hosted wallabag, it works perfectly. Additionaly, using Firefox against my wallabag server worked quite well, especially because the Firefox embedded reader allows control over font sizes, etc. and the native Wallabag web page supports exporting to PDF, and Epub (Mobi, too, but don’t need that on Android). The wallabag app provides a share target within my browser so that I can easily save new articles to my wallabag server from my phone.

wallabag installed easily on my hosted account on nearlyfreespeech.net, but I needed to tweak permissions because it complained that it couldn’t write to the cache subdirectory and some others, had to

chmod o+w cache
chmod o+w inc
chmod o+w inc/cache

Overall, I am pleased and satisfied with wallabag. Although similar services are available, it is satifying to find a way to have more control, particularly because wallabag does not require any compromises.