FeedWordPress simple and flexible Atom/RSS syndication for WordPress

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Migration in progress.

feedwordpress.radgeek.com

Dear FeedWordPress users: I am currently in the process of migrating the FeedWordPress project homepage from its space on projects.radgeek.com to a new, dedicated website at feedwordpress.radgeek.com, which should include the existing content of this homepage, but will also allow for other features — notably a documentation Wiki which should allow for more up-to-date and more extensive documentation and examples. I’m excited, and I hope you’ll be pleased.

The new stand-alone site is ready to peruse. All new information about FeedWordPress, including announcements of new releases and responses to reported issues, will take place at the new site. For the time being, this page is locked down; once the finishing touches are complete over at the stand-alone site, this homepage will be replaced with an HTTP redirect to the new stand-alone site.

See you on the flip side!

FeedWordPress is an Atom/RSS aggregator for the WordPress weblog software. It syndicates content from feeds that you choose into your WordPress weblog; if you syndicate several feeds you can use WordPress’s posts database and templating engine as the back-end of an aggregator (planet) website. It was originally developed because I needed a more flexible replacement for Planet to use at Feminist Blogs.

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FeedWordPress is designed with flexibility, ease of use, and ease of configuration in mind. You’ll need a working installation of WordPress or WordPress MU (version 2.8, 2.7, 2.6, 2.5, 2.3, 2.2, 2.1, 2.0 or 1.5), and also FTP or SFTP access to your web host. You don’t need to tweak any plain-text configuration files and you don’t need access to shell or crontab on your web host to make it work. (Although, I should mention, web hosts that don’t offer shell access and cron jobs are bad web hosts.)

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FeedWordPress has moved to feedwordpress.radgeek.com

FeedWordPress users,

If you’ve visited http://projects.radgeek.com/feedwordpress/ recently, then you have already found this out courtesy of an HTTP redirect; but for those of you who are following the feed, I’d like you to know that I am in the process of setting up a new, dedicated space for FeedWordPress at http://feedwordpress.radgeek.com/.

The new website will serve as a project landing pad and a blog for announcements and updates, just like always. But there’s also an important new feature, which is the main reason for the move: by giving FeedWordPress a shiny new Drupal site of its own, I will be able to create a new FeedWordPress community Wiki, which I hope will serve two purposes.

First, it will make it easier (for me, and perhaps also with the help of the FeedWordPress user community) to bring the (woefully out-of-date) documentation for the project back into line with reality, and then to expand and improve on it.

Second, I hope that with a community Wiki it will be possible to begin developing more community features around the FeedWordPress framework than the cramped project page allowed for. In particular, I hope that it will provide a space for people to discuss and to share filters and other add-ons that take advantage of FeedWordPress’s extensive, but currently mostly untapped, filtering capabilities. Sample themes, sample code for filters and add-ons, discussions of outstanding issues, fixes, and new features for FeedWordPress; I’m opening this up to y’all, and I’m excited to see what we can develop together.

See you at http://feedwordpress.radgeek.com/!

FeedWordPress 2009.0707: bug fix eliminates blank “Syndicated Sites” problem and fixes tagging widget

FeedWordPress 2009.0707 is now available for download.

This is a release to fix two bugs, one small and slightly irritating, and the other potentially very irritating, which resulted from changes to the AJAX interface elements between WordPress 2.7 and 2.8.

Let’s start with the more irritating problem which you should be able to eliminate by upgrading to the most recent release:

  • BUGFIX: WORDPRESS 2.8 AJAX COMPATIBILITY ISSUES RESOLVED (blank or truncated “Syndicated Sites” administration page): Due to changes in the AJAX interface elements between WordPress 2.7 and WordPress 2.8, several FeedWordPress users encountered an issue where the front “Syndication” page in the FeedWordPress administrative interface would come up blank, without the normal “Syndicated Sites” list and “Update” control, or sometimes wth the boxes visible but one or both of them truncated, with only the title bar. This issue should now be resolved: with the new version of FeedWordPress, the compatibility issue that caused the disappearance should be eliminated, and if boxes are shown with only their handle visible, you should once again be able to drop down the rest of the box by clicking once on its title bar.

Thank you to the many users who brought this issue to my attention, and supplied some very useful screen shots which helped me reproduce and track down the origin of the problem.

The second problem was with the Tags widget (found under Categories & Tags, where you can set tags to be applied to all syndicated posts, or all posts syndicated from a particular feed). This was also the result of some rather capricious changes to the AJAX interface framework in WordPress 2.8.

  • BUGFIX: TAG SETTING WIDGET FIXED. Due to changes in interface elements between WordPress 2.7 and WordPress 2.8, people using FeedWordPress with WordPress 2.8 found that the widget for setting tags to be applied to all syndicated posts, or all syndicated posts from a particular feed, no longer displayed “Add” and “Remove” buttons for individual tags. This issue has now been fixed, and the tagging widget should once again work more or less exactly like the tagging widget for individual posts in the normal WordPress admin interface.

Download and enjoy! As always, you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

Now that these bug fixes are out of the way, I have some ambitious plans for the next release of FeedWordPress, which I hope to be able to release by early August at the latest. Besides ongoing testing for compatibility with new releases in the 2.8.x and upcoming 2.9 branches of WordPress, I would like to implement a Category Mapping system, similar to the existing Author Mapping system, which would provide users with much more fine-grained, powerful, and sophisticated tools for controlling how categories or tags from feeds are imported into the WordPress database. As I have time to do so, I would also like to include some commonly-requested features, such as allowing users more control over how excerpts are generated and more precise control over the timing of automatic updates. And eventually I hope to be able to replace the aging MagpieRSS feed parser with the more robust, reliable, and flexible SimplePie feed parser that is now shipping with new releases of WordPress.

If you have benefited from the bug fixes that went into this most recent release, or if you are interested in making sure that powerful new features like Category Mapping can be developed for an upcoming release, please remember that it’s your generous gifts to the project tip jar that make ongoing development and support for FeedWordPress possible.

FeedWordPress 2009.0618: bug fix eliminates HTTP request failures when FeedFinder uses WP_Http_Fsockopen

FeedWordPress 2009.0618 is now available for download.

This is a bug fix release. Other than a few mainly cosmetic code clean-ups, there is only one change between this release and the previous release, 2009.0613. But it’s an important one.

After upgrading to WordPress 2.8, many users reported encountering the following error whenever they attempted to add a new feed through FeedWordPress’s feed-finder interface:

HTTP request failure

:

HTTP Transports available:

  1. WP_Http_Fsockopen

I reported earlier that this error was the result of some changes in the HTTP request functions provided by FeedWordPress (changes to the order in which different HTTP transports are used; changes which I think were rather ill-considered). After managing to replicate the problem and investigating more deeply, I found out that it was actually the result of a combination of two factors — the changes in WordPress 2.8 (which I still think were a mistake) and also a subtle bug in FeedWordPress’s feed-finder code, which the changes in the HTTP transport code ended up exposing. In any case, the subtle bug has now been fixed, and with it, the source of most of these HTTP request errors should be eliminated.

So, if you’ve been encountering this problem, be sure to download the most recent FeedWordPress. Then, after it’s installed, make sure you also upgrade your MagpieRSS to the version included with the most recent FeedWordPress. The fix is included in the MagpieRSS code, and will not be applied unless and until you upgrade your MagpieRSS to version 2009.0618.

Download and enjoy! As always, you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

Please remember that your generous gifts to the project tip jar make ongoing development and support for FeedWordPress possible.

FeedWordPress 2009.0613: minor UI glitches fixed and improved diagnostics for feed problems

FeedWordPress version 2009.0613 is now available for download.

This is a very minor update, which I guess should not be too much of a surprise, if you take into account the fact that I made a major release just yesterday. However, due to some difficulties that some people have been having, I thought it would be a good idea to push out a release with better diagnostics.

The basic issue is this: until WordPress version 2.7, FeedWordPress used the Snoopy HTTP library (which is included in WordPress) to fetch feeds for updating, and also for the feed finder that helps you subscribe to new feeds in the administrative interface. With WordPress 2.7, however, the WordPress team decided to deprecate Snoopy — so it’s still included with WordPress, but not used internally, and it may be dropped from future releases — and to introduce a new custom API for HTTP requests (the WP_Http class and some wrapper functions that make use of it). So, if you’re using WordPress 2.7.x or 2.8, FeedWordPress uses the new functions rather than the deprecated Snoopy module. One of the advantages of the new code is that it is supposed to be able to make use of any of several different HTTP transport APIs which may be available, depending on your PHP set-up (for example libcurl, fsockopen, URL support in fopen, etc.). But I’ve been noticing problems that many users have had that tie back to problems with the underlying HTTP transports used by WordPress’s new code, and, for reasons that are unclear to me, the WordPress development team decided to make some changes in WordPress 2.8 which make these problems even more likely to occur and even harder to get around. In any case, this is almost certainly the underlying issue if you, like others, are encountering something like this when you try to syndicate a new feed:

Error: I couldn’t find any feeds at <http://example.com/> [HTTP request error: :]. Try another URL

The best solution for you will depend on details about your own hosting situation — in particular, what version of WordPress you are using FeedWordPress with, and whether or not you are able to install new PHP modules on your web host, or, if not, whether or not you have someone who is willing to install new PHP modules for you. Unfortunately it’s not likely to be something that FeedWordPress itself can fix. But I have made some updates so that FeedWordPress will, at least, provide some more useful diagnostic information — which may help you figure out what needs to be done, or which will hep me help you figure it out, if you send the diagnostic information to me along with your support request.

So, anyway, all that said, that’s why I’m pushing out a new release today. (There are also a couple other minor changes included in the release, but I would probably not have bothered with a public release just yet except for the number of support requests I’ve gotten since yesterday’s release, which the diagnostics would help with.) Other than some under-the-hood re-arranging of the code, here are the significant changes between 2009.0613 and the previous releas, 2009.0612:

  • INTERFACE/BUGFIX: WORDPRESS 2.8 CATEGORY BOX FIX. Thanks to a subtle change in class names between the WordPress 2.7 and 2.8 stylesheets, category boxes in the FeedWordPress settings interface tended to overflow and have a lot of messy-looking overlapping text under WordPress 2.8. This has now been fixed.

  • FeedFinder FAILURE DIAGNOSTICS: When FWP’s FeedFinder fails to find any feeds at a given URL (for example, when you are trying to add a subscription through the administrative interface and you run into an error message), FeedWordPress now provides more diagnostic information for the reasons behind the failure. If that helps you, great; if not, it should help me respond more intelligently to your support request..

Download and enjoy! As always, you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

Please remember that your generous gifts to the project tip jar make ongoing development, quick fixes and timely support for FeedWordPress possible.

FeedWordPress 2009.0612: tested for WordPress 2.8 compatibility, interface redesign, bug fixes, and significant convenience features added

FeedWordPress version 2009.0612 is now available for download.

Given the recent release of WordPress 2.8 I thought it would be an opportune time to roll up the development I’ve been doing on FeedWordPress over the past few months and push out a new official release. A list of major changes since the last release follows below.

First things first, though. A new version of WordPress has come out, which has caused a number of e-mails — just like every WordPress release does — from people who upgraded WordPress to the latest version, and, in the process, inadvertently downgraded their MagpieRSS to the old, busted version included with WordPress. If you have noticed strange problems with syndicating feeds (especially Atom feeds) immediately after making the upgrade, like those described in my old post about upgrading to WordPress 2.5, then you need to re-copy the MagpieRSS upgrades from your FeedWordPress installation to the wp-includes/ subdirectory of your WordPress installation. Fortunately, if you upgrade to FeedWordPress 2009.0612, one of the new features included in the package is that it will politely remind you to perform this upgrade if it notices that the old version of MagpieRSS is the one that’s loading up.

Now, then. Here are the major changes since the release of FeedWordPress 2008.1214.

  • WORDPRESS 2.8 COMPATIBILITY: FeedWordPress 2009.0612 has been tested for compatibility with the recent version 2.8 release of WordPress.

  • INTERFACE RESTRUCTURING: In order to avoid settings posts from becoming too crowded, and to modularize and better organize the user interface, new “Posts” and “Categories & Tags” subpages have been created under the “Syndication” menu. “Posts” controls settings for individal syndicated posts (such as publication status, comment and ping status, whether or not to use the original location of the post as the permalink, whether or not to expose posts to formatting filters, and so on). “Categories & Tags” controls settings for assigning new syndicated posts to categories and tags, such as categories or tags to apply to all syndicated posts, and how to handle categories that do not yet exist in the WordPress database. These subpages, like the Authors subpage, handle settings for the global default level and for individual syndicated feeds.

    Corresponding to these new subpages, the old Syndication Settings and Feed Settings subpages have been cleaned up and simplified, and now only link to the appropriate subpages for options that can be set in the Posts, Authors, or Categories & Tags subpages.

  • FEATURE: ADD CUSTOM SETTINGS TO EACH SYNDICATED POST: FeedWordPress has long had an interface for creating custom settings for each syndicated feed which could be retrieved in templates using the get_feed_meta() template function. But it had no feature for adding custom fields to each individual syndicated post. In response to requests from users, I have added the ability to apply custom fields to each individual syndicated post, using the new Syndication –> Posts subpage. You can set up custom fields to be applied to every syndicated post, or custom fields to be applied to syndicated posts from a particular feed.

  • FEATURE: MAGPIERSS VERSION CHECK AND UPGRADE: FeedWordPress will attempt to determine whether or not you are using the upgraded version of MagpieRSS that comes packaged with FeedWordPress. If not, it will throw an error on admin pages, and, if you are a site administrator, it will give you the option to ignore the error message, or to attempt an automatic upgrade (using a native file copy). If the file copy fails, FeedWordPress will offer some guidance on how to perform the upgrade manually.

  • BLANK POSTS PROBLEM NO LONGER OCCURS WITH OLD & BUSTED MAGPIERSS: Due to the fact that I relied on a content normalization that occurs in my upgraded version of MagpieRSS, but not in the old & busted version of MagpieRSS that ships with WordPress, until this version, if you tried to syndicate an Atom feed without having performed the (strongly recommended) MagpieRSS upgrade, all of the posts would come up with completely blank contents. That’s not because MagpieRSS couldn’t read the data, but rather because the new Magpie version puts that data in a location where the old version doesn’t, and I was only looking in that newer location. Now it checks for both, meaning that posts will continue to display their contents even if you don’t upgrade MagpieRSS. (But you really should upgrade it, anyway.)

  • BUGFIX: RELATIVE URI RESOLUTION FOR POST CONTENT RESTORED. Some time back, I added support for resolving relative URIs against xml:base on feeds that support it to the MagpieRSS upgrade in FeedWordPress. Then I took out code that did the same thing from the main FeedWordPress code. Of course, the problem is that some people, even though it is clearly stupid or evil to do so, still include relative URIs for images or links in posts on feed formats that do not adequately support xml:base (notably, RSS 2.0 feeds). In response to a user request, I have added this functionality back in, so that MagpieRSS will resolve any relative URIs that it knows how to resolve using xml:base, and then FeedWordPress will attempt to resolve any relative URIs that are left over afterwards.

  • BUGFIX: INTERFACE OPTION FOR SETTING SYNDICATED POST PUBLICATION STATUS ON A FEED-BY-FEED BASIS HAS BEEN RESTORED: Due to a version-checking bug, users of WordPress 2.7.x lost an option from the “Edit a syndicated feed” interface which allowed them to determine whether newly syndicated posts should be published immediately, held as “Pending Review,” saved as drafts, or saved as private posts. (The option to change this setting globally remained in place, but users could no longer set it on a feed-by-feed basis.) The version-checking bug has been fixed, and the option has been restored.

  • BUGFIX: “ARE YOU SURE?” FATAL ERROR ELIMINATED AND SECURITY IMPROVED: Under certain circumstances (for example, when users have configured their browser or proxy not to send HTTP Referer headers, for privacy or other reasons), many features in the FeedWordPress administrative interface (such as adding new feeds or changing settings) would hit a fatal error, displaying only a cryptic message reading “Are you sure?” and a blank page following it. This problem has been eliminated by taking advantage of WordPress’s nonce functions, which allow the security check which ran into this error to work properly even without receiving an HTTP Referer header. (N.B.: WordPress’s nonce functions were first introduced in WordPress 2.0.3. If you’re using FeedWordPress with an older version of WordPress, there’s no fix for this problem: you’ll just need to turn Referer headers back on. Sorry.)

  • BUGFIX: MANUALLY-ALTERED POST STATUS, COMMENT STATUS, AND PING STATUS NO LONGER REVERTED BY POST UPDATES: If you manually altered the post status, comment status, or ping status of a syndicated post from what it was set to when first syndicated — for example, if you had a feed that was set to bring in new posts as “Pending Review,” and you then marked some of the pending posts as “Published” and others as “Unpublished” — then in previous versions of FeedWordPress, these manual changes to the status would be lost — so that, for example, your Published or Unpublished articles would revert to Pending Review — if the source feed made any upates to the item. This could make the Pending Review feature both unreliable and also extremely frustrating to work with. The good news is that this bug has since been fixed: if you manually update the status of a post, it will no longer be reverted if or when the post is updated.

  • BUGFIX: OCCASIONAL FATAL ERROR ON UPDATE ELIMINATED: Under certain limited conditions (specifically, when both the title and the content of a post to be updated are empty), an attempt to update the post would result in a fatal error. This has been fixed.

  • INTERFACE: “CONFIGURE SETTINGS” CONVENIENCE LINK ADDED TO CONFIRMATION MESSAGE WHEN A NEW FEED IS ADDED: When you add a new subscription to FeedWordPress, the message box that appears to confirm it now includes a handy link to the feed’s settings subpage, so that you can quickly set up any special settings you may want to set up for the new feed, without having to hunt through the list of all your other subscriptions to pick out the new one.

  • INTERFACE: SIMPLIFYING AND CLARIFYING AUTOMATIC UPDATES SETTINGS. I have removed an interval setting for the cronless automatic updates which has confused many FeedWordPress users. In past versions of FWP, when you turned on automatic updates, you would be presented with a time interval setting which controlled how often FeedWordPress would check for feeds ready to be polled for updates. (That is, it DID NOT control how often feeds would be polled; it controlled how often FeedWordPress would check for feeds that had become ready to poll. The schedule on which feeds became ready for polling was still controlled either by requests encoded in elements within the feed itself, or else according to an internal calculation within FeedWordPress, averaging out to about 1 hour, if the feed did not include any scheduling request elements.) Since many users very often (and understandably) confused the purpose of this setting, and since the setting is for a feature that’s actually very unlikely to require any manual control by the user, I have removed the setting; FeedWordPress now simply uses the default value of checking for feeds to poll every 10 minutes.

  • FEEDFINDER PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT: FeedWordPress’s FeedFinder class now uses array_unique() to make sure that it doesn’t waste time repeatedly iterating over and polling the same URI. Props to Camilo (http://projects.radgeek.com/2008/12/14/feedwordpress-20081214/#comment-20090122160414).

Enjoy! As always, you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

Please remember that your generous gifts to the project tip jar make ongoing development and support for FeedWordPress possible.

FeedWordPress 2008.1214 fixes known compatibility issues with WordPress 2.7, fixes a couple bugs, and polishes the interface a bit.

FeedWordPress version 2008.1214 is now available for download.

The advent of December has seen the release of WordPress 2.7, and I’ve been working to get out a new release of FeedWordPress before I leave to visit family for the holidays, which incorporates the couple of small compatibility fixes. In addition, I’ve added some interface improvements (to help FWP look a bit less out-of-place in the new user interface), and a couple of fixes of bugs reported or detected in the process of testing.

Also, I created a cheesy little logo icon for FeedWordPress to fit in with the general practice in the WordPress 2.7 interface. It’s not actually intended to be a distinctive logo for FeedWordPress (it just takes a syndication icon and the WordPress logo and puts them together), but it should at least visually mark off the FeedWordPress configuration interface from the rest of the Dashboard. Hope you like it.

First things first, though. A WordPress update has come out, which has caused a number of e-mails — just like every WordPress release does –from people who upgraded WordPress to the latest version, and, in the process, inadvertently downgraded their MagpieRSS to the old, busted version included with WordPress. If you have noticed strange problems with syndicating feeds (especially Atom feeds) immediately after making the upgrade, like those described in my old post about upgrading to WordPress 2.5, then you need to re-copy the MagpieRSS upgrades from your FeedWordPress installation to the wp-includes/ subdirectory of your WordPress installation. (The old post discusses this issue, and the steps for fixing it, in more detail.)

Now, then. Here are the major changes since the release of FeedWordPress 2008.1105:

  • WORDPRESS 2.7 COMPATIBILITY: FeedWordPress has been tested for compatibility with the newly released WordPress 2.7. WordPress 2.7 has deprecated the Snoopy library for HTTP requests, which caused a fatal error for users who had not installed the MagpieRSS upgrade (or whose installation of the MagpieRSS upgrade was overwritten by a recent update of WordPress). FeedWordPress now handles things gracefully when Snoopy is not immediately available. The 2008.1214 fix also releases a minor interface bug experienced when changing link settings under WordPress 2.7. (This was the result of some new caching features implemented in 2.7.)

  • INTERFACE SPIFFED UP: Interface elements have been updated so that FeedWordPress’s management interface fits in more naturally with the WordPress 2.7 interface (including a new logo and a number of small interface tweaks).

  • BUG WITH TAGS FOR SYNDICATED ARTICLES FIXED: Several users encountered a bug with the option to add tags to all syndicated posts under Syndication –> Settings — if you told FeedWordPress to add more than one tag to all syndicated posts, instead of doing so correctly, it would add a single tag instead, whose name was composed of the names of all the tags you asked it to add. This bug was the result of nothing more dignified than a typographical error on my part. It has now been fixed.

  • MORE INFORMATION AVAILABLE WHEN FEEDWORDPRESS CAN’T FIND A FEED: When you enter a URL for a new syndication source, FeedWordPress uses a simple feed-finding algorithm (originally based on Mark Pilgrim’s Universal Feed Finder) to try to determine whether the URL is the URL for a feed, or, if the URL points to an ordinary website rather than to a feed, whether there is a feed for that website. All well and good, but if FeedWordPress failed to find a feed, for whatever reason, it would typically return nothing more than a nasty little note to the effect of no feed found, without any explanation of what went wrong. FeedWordPress now keeps track of error conditions from the HTTP requests that it uses in the course of looking for the feed, and so may be able to give you a bit more information about the nature of the problem if something goes wrong.

Enjoy! As always, you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

Also, I know that there are a couple of issues that some users have already reported that have not yet been addressed in this release. (For example, I haven’t yet been able to investigate the issue reported by Scot Hacker and mn, as well as some private e-mails. I’m hoping to investigate this issue over the next couple weeks in order to discover what’s going on and how to fix it; if I can catch it in action, then I should be able to push out a release either during downtime on my winter vacation, or else shortly after New Years’.) In any case, please remember that your gifts to the project tip jar make ongoing development and support like this possible.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November: FeedWordPress 2008.1105 fixes a few reported issues

Update 2008-12-14: FeedWordPress 2008.1105 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 2008.1214 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

As a slightly belated gift for Guy Fawkes Day, here’s the latest release of FeedWordPress, version 2008.1105, now available for download.

(Why 2008.1105 when I’m announcing the release on 6 November 2008? Because the release itself was completed yesterday; all I did this morning was to document the changes and prepare the announcement.)

Besides the beginnings of some re-organization of the interface, the main purpose of this release is to make fixes available for several existing issues that were reported by users. (In particular, thanks to Alan Cordle, RaynerApe, Glenn Marcus, Waldo Jaquith, and several other users for bringing some of these issues to my attention, and for suggesting some of these fixes.

Here are the major changes since FeedWordPress 2008.1101:

  • INTERFACE RESTRUCTURING AND SYNDICATION –> AUTHORS PAGE: As a first step towards modularizing and better organizing the user interface, a new “Authors” subpage has been created under the Syndication menu, which controls settings for syndicated authors, both at the global default level and at level of individual syndicated feeds.

  • BUG RELATED TO THE ATTRIBUTION OF POSTS TO THE WRONG AUTHOR FIXED: Some users encountered an issue in which posts by different authors on different blogs — especially blogs generated by Blogger — were mistakenly attributed to a single author. The problem was caused by the way in which FeedWordPress matches syndicated authors to user accounts in the WordPress database: normally, if two feeds each list an author with the same e-mail address, they are counted as being the same person. Normally this works well, but it creates an issue in cases where blogging software assigns a single anonymous e-mail address to users who do not want their real e-mail address published. This is, for example, what Blogger does (by giving all users a default e-mail address of noreply@blogger.com if they don’t want their own e-mail address listed). FeedWordPress now allows the user to correct for this problem with a couple of new settings under Syndication –> Authors, which allow users to turn off e-mail based author matching for particular addresses, or, if desired, to turn it off entirely. By default, e-mail based author matching is still turned on, but disabled for a list of known generic e-mail addresses. Right now, the “list” consists entirely of noreply@blogger.com; if you know other addresses that should be added, please contact me to let me know.

    Please note that if you have already encountered this issue on your blog, upgrading FeedWordPress will prevent it from re-occurring in the future, but you still need to do two other things to fix the existing problem on your blog.

    First, for each feed where posts have been mis-attributed, you need to change the existing author mapping rules to re-map a a syndicated author’s name to the proper target account. Go to Syndication –> Authors, select the feed you want to change from the drop-down list, and then change the settings under the “Syndicated Authors” section. (You will probably need to select “will be assigned to a new user…” to create a new user account with the appropriate name.)

    Second, for each feed where posts have been mis-attributed, you need to re-assign already-syndicated posts that were mis-attributed to the correct author. You can do that from Syndication –> Authors by using the author re-assignment feature, described below.

  • AUTHOR RE-ASSIGNMENT FOR A PARTICULAR FEED: The author settings page for each syndicated feed, under Syndication –> Authors, now includes an section titled “Fixing mis-matched authors,” which provides an interface for re-assigning or deleting all posts attributed to a particular author on a particular feed.

  • SUPPORT FOR <atom:source> ELEMENT IN SYNDICATED FEEDS: Some feeds (for example, those produced by FeedWordPress) aggregate content from several different sources, and include information about the original source of the post in an <atom:source> element. A new setting under Syndication –> Options allows you to control what FeedWordPress will report as the source of posts syndicated from aggregator feeds in your templates and feeds: you can have FeedWordPress report that the source of a post is the aggregator feed itself, or you can have it report that the source of a post is the original source that the aggregator originally syndicated the post from.

    By default, FeedWordPress will report the aggregator, not the original source, as the source of a syndicated item.

  • LOAD BALANCING AND TIME LIMITING FEATURES FOR UPDATES: Some users have encountered issues due to running up against PHP execution time limits during the process of updating large syndicated feeds, or a very large set of syndicated feeds. FeedWordPress now has a feature that allows you to limit the total amount of time spent updating a feed, through the “Time limit on updates” setting under Syndication –> Options. By turning on this setting and adjusting the time limit to a low enough figure to avoid your PHP installation’s time-out setting. (PHP execution time limits are usually in the vicinity of 30 seconds, so an update time limit of 25 seconds or so should provide plenty of time for updates while allowing a cushion of time for other, non-update-related functions to do their work.)

    If feed updates are interrupted by the time limit, FeedWordPress uses some simple load balancing features to make sure that updates to other feeds will not be blocked by the time-hogging feed, and will also make sure that when the interrupted update is resumed, FeedWordPress will skip ahead to resume processing items at the point at which it was interrupted last time, so that posts further down in the feed will eventually get processed, and not get blocked by the amount of time it takes to process the items higher up in the feed.

  • guid INDEX CREATION BUTTON: FeedWordPress frequently issues queries on the guid column of the WordPress posts database (since it uses post guid URIs to keep track of which posts it has syndicated). In very large FeedWordPress installations, you can often significantly improve performance by creating a database index on the guid column, but normally you would need to poke around with MySQL or a tool like phpMyAdmin to do this. FeedWordPress can now save you the trouble: to create an index on the guid column, just go to Syndication –> Options, and mash the button at the bottom of the “Back End” section.

Enjoy! If you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

Please remember that your generous gifts to the project tip jar make ongoing development and support like this possible.

FeedWordPress 2008.1101: Fixes interface bug that prevented new users from adding syndicated feeds.

Update 2008-11-06: FeedWordPress 2008.1101 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 2008.1105 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

FeedWordPress 2008.1101 is now available for download. This fixes a user interface bug that some users noticed with FeedWordPress 2008.1030, which prevented users from adding new feeds on a clean install (or in any other situation where there are currently no syndicated feeds).

Thanks to David Lindsey, and to the commenter from JB Design and Photo, for pointing out this bug to me.

Enjoy! If you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

FeedWordPress 2008.1030: bugfixes, WordPress 2.6 compatability, new features, and a new versioning scheme

Update 2008-11-06: FeedWordPress 2008.1030 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 2008.1105 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

FeedWordPress 2008.1030 is now available for download.

I’ll talk about what’s new in a second. But first, I’m going to ask you for some money. Here’s why.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to concentrate on FeedWordPress development and support, and I’m glad to finally get this release released. The major reasons for this have been related to work: FeedWordPress development has had to take a back seat while I took on other projects as full-time or seasonal work in order to pay the bills. FeedWordPress started out, originally, as itch-scratch-ware for my own purposes, and eventually became a sort of hobby that I was pleased to find a lot of people were finding useful. But I do have rent and bills to pay, and other work has kept me from being able to keep up with FeedWordPress as much as I would like. Since then my circumstances have changed. I am now working as a freelance web developer, which gives me more flexibility over choosing my projects and setting the hours that I work on them. And what I would like is to be able to devote significantly more time to developing and supporting FeedWordPress. Which I will be able to do if my work on FeedWordPress generates enough user donations to free me up from having to spend that time looking for paying gigs. So, if you enjoy FeedWordPress (or at least find it useful), I’d encourage you to figure out how much ongoing development and support for FeedWordPress is worth to you, and consider making a contribution to the project through the project tip jar at http://projects.radgeek.com/feedwordpress/.

O.K. Now, on to the release.

This release of FeedWordPress features a couple of fixes to bugs that have been irritating FeedWordPress users for some time now. It also features some important new features. And a new versioning scheme: rather than call this release 0.994, I have decided that, with these bug fixes in place, and with the number of reasonable version numbers left between 0.993 and 1.0 quickly running out, it is time to drop the beta-status versioning and to adopt a new versioning scheme. Because of the way that FeedWordPress releases work — the basic architecture is likely to remain stable even if there are bug fixes, small or significant changes to internal workings, or the occasional significant new feature added — I think that it will not make much sense to try to follow a standard major.minor.bugfix pattern for version numbers of FeedWordPress. Instead, I’ve decided to adopt release numbers based on the date of the release; since this one is being released on October 30, 2008, we’ll call it FeedWordPress 2008.1030.

Here is most of what has changed since FeedWordPress 0.993:

  • WORDPRESS 2.6 COMPATABILITY: FeedWordPress should now be fully compatible with WordPress 2.6, and should work more or less seamlessly with the new post revision system. A bug which caused multiple new revisions to be created for posts on certain feeds, regardless of whether or not the item had been updated, has been fixed.

  • INTERFACE IMPROVEMENTS: The user interface has been substantially restyled to fit in better with the visual style of WordPress 2.5 and 2.6.

  • YouTube BUG (<object> TAGS STRIPPED FROM SYNDICATED POSTS) FIXED: Due to the way that some versions of WordPress process posts that are inserted into the database when no user is logged in, many users experienced an issue where YouTube videos and other content using the HTML <object> tag would be stripped out of posts that were syndicated during an automatic update. (Posts that were syndicated through manual updates from within the WordPress Dashboard were not affected, because the issue does not arise when an update is executed under a logged-in administrator’s credentials.) This bug has now been fixed; YouTube videos and other content using <object> tags should now appear properly in syndicated posts, regardless of the way in which the post was syndicated.

  • AJAX BUGS FIXED: Bugs which blocked the normal operation of WordPress 2.5′s AJAX interface elements when FeedWordPress was activated have been fixed.

  • TAG SUPPORT: A couple of features have been introduced to take advantage of the tagging features in WordPress 2.3.x, 2.5.x, and 2.6.x. Now, when unfamiliar categories are encountered for posts on a feed, you can choose for FeedWordPress (1) to drop the category; (2) to drop the category and to filter out any post that does not match at least one familiar category; (3) to create a new category with that name, or, now, you can also have FeedWordPress (4) create a new tag with that name. This option can be set site-wide under Syndication –> Options, or it can be set on a feed-by-feed basis in a feed’s Edit screen.

    In addition, you can now set particular tags to apply to all incoming syndicated posts, under Syndication –> Options, or you can set tags to apply to all incoming syndicated posts from a particular feed in that feed’s Edit screen.

  • FORMATTING FILTERS: There is a new option available under Syndication -> Options which allows users to choose whether or not to expose syndicated posts to being altered by formatting filters. By default, FeedWordPress has always protected syndicated posts (which are already in display-ready HTML when they are syndicated) from being reformatted by formatting filters. However, this approach means that certain plugins which depend on formatting filters (for example, to add “Share This” bars or relevant links to the end of a post) are blocked from working on any syndicated posts. If you want to use one of these plugins together with FeedWordPress, you can now do so by changing the “Formatting Filters” setting from “Protect” to “Expose.”

  • <atom:source> ELEMENTS NOW INCLUDED IN ATOM FEED: Atom 1.0 provides a standard method for aggregators to indicate information about the original source of a syndicated post, using the <atom:source> element. FeedWordPress now introduces standard <atom:source> elements including the title, homepage, and feed URI of the source from which a syndicated post was syndicated. Cf. http://www.atomenabled.org/developers/syndication/atom-format-spec.php#element.source

  • MODULARIZATION OF CODE: The code for different elements of FeedWordPress has been broken out into several modules for easier inspection, documentation, and maintenance of the code.

  • VERSIONING SCHEME CHANGED: FeedWordPress’s feature set has proven stable enough that it can now be removed from beta status; a good thing, since I was very quickly running out of version numbers to use. New releases of FeedWordPress will have version numbers based on the date of their release.

If you have put off upgrading to WordPress 2.6.x while you waited for a compatibility-tested version of FeedWordPress, and plan to upgrade WordPress after installing FeedWordPress 2008.1030, please remember that after you upgrade WordPress, you will need to reinstall the FeedWordPress MagpieRSS upgrades in order to keep your feed parsing from getting broken.

Enjoy! If you have any issues with the release, or if there is anything that you would like to see included in a future release, please use the comments form or drop me a line to let me know about it.

FeedWordPress 0.993: WordPress 2.5.1 compatibility and a couple new features

Update 2008-11-06: FeedWordPress 0.993 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 2008.1105 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

FeedWordPress version 0.993 is now available for download.

There are a few new features that I am in the midst of working on for an upcoming release of FeedWordPress, but I have released version 0.993 now in order to resolve the critical compatability issue with WordPress 2.5.1. I am still doing compatibility testing to see whether there are any kinks in compatibility with WordPress 2.5.x, but upgrading to this release should eliminate the fatal error that prevented 2.5.1 users from accessing the Syndication Options and the feed settings pages from within the WordPress pages. There are some small bug fixes and the beginning groundwork for some features that will become more fleshed out in the upcoming, more feature-rich release, which aren’t worth going into in detail; besides those, here is what’s new since FeedWordPress 0.992:

  • WORDPRESS 2.5.1 COMPATIBILITY: FeedWordPress should now be compatible with WordPress 2.5.1.

  • WORDPRESS 2.5 INTERFACE IMPROVEMENTS: FeedWordPress’s Dashboard interface has undergone several cosmetic changes that should help it integrate better with the WordPress Dashboard interface in WordPress version 2.5.x.

  • SYNDICATED POSTS CAN BE MARKED AS “PENDING REVIEW”: WordPress 2.3 users can now take advantage of WordPress’s new “Pending Review” features for incoming syndicated posts. Posts marked as “Pending Review” are not published immediately, but are marked as ready to be reviewed by an Administrator or Editor, who can then choose to publish the post or hold it back. If you want to review syndicated posts from a particular feed, or from all feeds, before they are posted, then use Syndication –> Syndicated Sites –> Edit or Syndication –> Options to change the settings for handling new posts.

  • AWARE OF NEW URI FOR del.icio.us FEEDS: Previous releases of FeedWordPress already automatically split del.icio.us tags up appropriately appropriately when generating categories. (del.icio.us feeds smoosh all the tags into a single <dc:subject> element, separated by spaces; FeedWordPress un-smooshes them into multiple categories by separating them at whitespace.) Unfortunately, del.icio.us recently broke the existing behavior by changing host names for their feeds from del.icio.us to feeds.delicious.com. Version 0.993 accounts for the new host name and un-breaks the tag splitting.

If you have put off upgrading to WordPress 2.5.1 due to this bug, and plan to upgrade after installing FeedWordPress 0.993, please remember that after you upgrade WordPress, you will need to reinstall the FeedWordPress MagpieRSS upgrades in order to keep your feed parsing from getting broken.

Enjoy! As I mentioned, I’m actively working on a release, probably due sometime before the end of the month, including bug fixes and a few significant new features, so let me know about any ongoing issues that you may still have.