In 2012, I created a small application called "The News" (hetnieuws.nu), driven by my frustration with general newspapers and online news sources. I found the content too broad and noisy, making it difficult to find articles that were interesting and relevant to me personally. The News was a simple web application that allowed users to filter news articles by selecting specific topics of interest, providing a curated selection of articles in an easy-to-use, responsive layout.
The design consisted of a three-column layout: the first column displayed a list of the user's personal topics, the second column contained the news items based on a selected topic, and the third column showed the selected news article itself. The column structure made it easy to navigate and was especially user-friendly on both desktop and mobile devices. On smaller screens, users would only see one column at a time, focusing on the content they were currently interacting with.
I also added a few features that enhanced the user experience, such as a small badge for each topic that indicated if there were any new articles available since the user's last visit. This allowed users to quickly see which topics had fresh content, something that traditional news websites often lacked. Additionally, users could rearrange their list of topics according to their preferences.
The news articles were sourced from the Dutch news website Nu.nl, which provided an RSS feed at the time. This feed allowed developers such as myself to access their news content based on fixed topics, or, custom keywords 😏. You guessed it, the latter proved to be crucial for my application. Also, there were no API tokens or throttling, just simple access to their news, making it incredibly easy for me to use their data. I actually fondly remember this period as a more vibrant time in terms of accessibility and "hackability."
Despite the application's limited popularity, I found it to be a valuable personal tool, as did my parents. I even turned it into a progressive web app with its own iOS splash screen and home screen icon, making it indistinguishable from a native app. Eventually, I contacted Nu.nl to share my implementation of their RSS feed in my personalized news application. Unfortunately, they didn't respond, and soon after, the RSS feature was removed. Though likely a coincidence, I couldn't help but feel I had inadvertently contributed to the loss of this feature.
Overall, The News was a simple but effective application that still inspires me today. By leveraging a few simple functions that looped through their RSS feed, I built an entire user environment combined with my own content and functionality. I'm proud of what I accomplished and look forward to creating even more innovative projects in the future, utilizing better technology and minimizing dependencies.