This is a quick prototype that turned out to be quite usable. The design is minimal: some home-made ORM for the feed storage, crude parallelism with the multiprocessing module and a simple plugin API using importlib.

The threading design, in particular, may be a little clunky and is certainly less tested, which is why it is disabled by default (use --parallel to use it). I had multiple design in minds: the current one (multiprocessing.Pool and pool.apply_async) vs aiohttp (on the asyncio branch) vs (on the threadpoolmap branch). The aiohttp design was very hard to diagnose and debug, which made me abandon the whole thing. After reading up on Curio and Trio, I’m tempted to give async/await a try again, but that would mean completely dropping 2.7 compatibility. The design is just badly adapted, as it would load all the feed’s datastructure in memory before processing them.


feed2exec is a fairly new and minimal program, so features you may expect from another feed reader may not be present. I chose to write a new program because, when I started, both existing alternatives were in a questionable state: feed2imap was mostly abandoned and rss2email’s maintainer was also unresponsive. Both were missing the features I was looking for, which was to unify my feed parsers in a single program: i needed something that could deliver mail, run commands and send tweets. The latter isn’t done yet, but I am hoping to complete this eventually.

The program may not be for everyone, however, so I made those comparison tables to clarify what feed2exec does compared to the alternatives.

General information:

Program Version Date SLOC Language
feed2exec 0.5 2017 1417 Python
feed2imap 1.2.5 2015 3249 Ruby
rss2email 3.9 2014 1986 Python
  • version: the version analysed
  • date: the date of that release
  • SLOC: Source Lines of Codes as counted by sloccount, only counting dominant language (e.g. excluding XML from test feeds)
  • Language: primary programming language

Delivery options:

Program Maildir Mbox IMAP SMTP sendmail exec
  • maildir: writing to Maildir folders. r2e has a pull request to implement maildir support, but it’s not merged at the time of writing
  • IMAP: sending emails to IMAP servers
  • SMTP: delivering emails over the SMTP protocol, with authentication
  • sendmail: delivering local using the local MTA
  • exec: run arbitrary comands to run on new entries. feed2imap has a execurl parameter to execute commands, but it receives an unparsed dump of the feed instead of individual entries. rss2email has a postprocess filter that is a Python plugin that can act on indiviual (or digest) messages which could possibly be extended to support arbitrary commands, but that is rather difficult to implement for normal users.


Program Pause OPML Retry Images Filter Reply Digest
  • pause: feed reading can be disabled temporarily by user. in feed2exec, this is implemented with the pause configuration setting. the catchup option can also be used to catchup with feed entries.
  • retry: tolerate temporary errors. For example, feed2imap will report errors only after 10 failures.
  • images: download images found in feed. feed2imap can download images and attach them to the email.
  • filter: if we can apply arbitrary filters to the feed output. feed2imap can apply filters to the unparsed dump of the feed.
  • reply: if the generated email ‘from’ header is usable to make a reply. rss2email has a use-publisher-email setting (off by default) for this, for example. feed2exec does this by default.
  • digest: possibility of sending a single email per run instead of one per entry


feed2imap supports only importing OPML feeds, exporting is supported by a third-party plugin.