New URL friendly name for all digests. All digests must now have a URL friendly name. This is so that we can roll out our next set of services, part of which will involve cute URLs like: http://feeds.feeddigest.com/yourdigest .. Actually, that style of URL already works! Try http://feeds.feeddigest.com/wrestlingnews! If you edit your digest, please note FeedDigest will complain unless you give your digest a unique name for this feature.
Improved search. The search query system has been improved a little. Now you can use phrases in your queries, so a query of "international space station" will match posts that contain that phrase rather than each of the individual words. You can also use a wildcard on the end of individual words (not in phrases), so nano* will match 'nanotechnology', 'nanobots', and so forth.
Cross domain support for Flash developers. All techie stuff, but we now support this with a crossdomain.xml file on app.feeddigest.com.
Meta URLs (in beta). If you want to create some digests in a hurry based on popular feeds, you can now skip the complex URLs and specify things like.. googleblog:whatever , delicioustag:whatever , delicioususer:whoever , blogdigger:whatever , and so forth. We talk more about it here. It's only in beta though, so any problems.. post them to that forum post :)
OPML export. It's only a minor addition, but you can now get an OPML file of all the feeds in a certain digest from your control panel. Please alert us to any quirks with this.
To come..? A beta of "e-mail to digest" is rolling out to all users in the next few days.
After working with several users who were reporting poorly crawled feeds, we've discovered the latest version of MySQL (our database server of choice) has a bug in a certain area of its operation, and this bug tripped in when we did our database upgrade just over a week ago. This caused some feeds not to get updated when they needed to be. We've now 'fixed the glitch', as it were, and lots of feeds are getting added to the crawlers it seems. Things will start returning to normal gradually over the next 24 hours, as that'll probably be the biggest glut of feeds to be processed due to this bug. We apologize for the inconvenience!
Hurrah, we now have improved support for Flickr. If you subscribe to any of Flickr's RSS 2.0 feeds, you can use the ENCLOSUREURL tag to get access to the thumbnails inside the Flickr feeds. We've also created a new default template called "Flickr Slides" to help you out.
Simply create a digest using a Flickr RSS 2.0 feeds, use the Flickr Slides template, and you'll get a digest like this:
You can, of course, tweak the template to your perfection. The above example uses the RSS feed for the 'yellow' tag on Flickr, by the way :)
We've come to a decision on how we're going to organize our infrastructure for the next release of FeedDigest, and we wanted to give you a rough idea of how we see the transition occurring.
First off, we're setting up a beta site that will showcase aspects of our new interface and control panel. It will be based on the current FeedDigest "back end" though, so is really a beta of our new control panel and interface improvements. This is due this month.
At the same time we'll be setting up a second set of servers and rolling out a whole new backend.. a "FeedDigest 2", if you will. When we feel it's ready for action, we'll be moving the beta over to the new backend and migrating all paying customers to the new set of servers. We will also upgrade the first set of servers (for free users) to the new version.
This means paying users and 'free' users will be on separate servers, so that we can make sure the service paying customers receive is not impeded, while having the 'free' servers as a backup plan. We're not planning to ditch the free plans at all, quite the contrary, but we're also aware that paying customers do demand a certain added level of service, and by keeping two separate sets of FeedDigest servers, we can ensure performance is increased for everybody.
At a request from users, we now support basic MRSS feeds.. or in layman's terms, you can now make cool digests like this one based off of, say, Yahoo! Image searches.
Simply use the %ENCLOSUREURL% tag in your digest's template and you'll get back the URL of the thumbnail image associated with the particular item in your MRSS compatible feed. This feature will be useful for anyone wanting to use Yahoo!'s Image powered feeds and some of NASA's picture feeds (such as Picture of the Day).
(Please note that images will only be registered for new posts and feeds from here on. Existing posts in our database from MRSS feeds still have no enclosures.)
As you may know, FeedDigest is gearing up for a relaunch and rearchitecture in the next month. One major part of this is that the concept of query and search based feeds is going. They're impractical to maintain and significantly slow down our systems, disturbing service for everybody. This does not include external feeds which are based on searches, such as those from Google News, Yahoo, NOAA, etc.. it means feeds using FeedDigest's internal search only. So if you're using external services, your feeds will still work fine.
This is not going to win us any brownie points, but effectively immediately we are deactivating all query / search based digests. These make up only 2.2% of all digests, and if you don't know what they are, you're probably not using them! We are still allowing paying subscribers to use this feature until it is superceded by our new query system, launching in a few weeks' time, so if you're a paying subscriber, do not worry! We will be attempting to seamlessly migrate your digests when the time comes.
We suggest to users that a temporary solution is to use Google Blog Search, Technorati, Feedster, IceRocket, and Yahoo Search with your chosen search parameters, and then feed the resulting feeds into FeedDigest. That way you get the same results, but with less hassle and a much wider group of sources.
Again, we apologize, but this is a necessary growing pain in order to keep our service working well. It affects only 2% of digests and only for free users.
(Added 16 Feb 2006: Free users may now recreate or readd search terms to their feeds if they wish.)
Users will have noticed that digests were being served rather sluggishly over the past few days. This situation has annoyed us, so we've been straight on the case to sort it out. The problem arose because our 'application server' deals with a lot of things at once. While 90% of requests are served from our very fast memory cache, the remaining 10% can 'sticky' up the system. This means the 90% of requests slow down a lot.
Today we've changed how it works. Now we've made it so that EVERYTHING is cached, even if the cache is out of date. We'll serve whatever is in the cache, and add that digest's ID to a special list of digests to refresh 'behind the scenes'. The cache is then updated directly, rather than hogging up the user's time. The slight disadvantage of this is that digests may seem to update a little slower than before (although not by much), but the advantage is that they can be served a lot faster than ever before.
We will be giving paid subscribers a way to get the best of both worlds shortly :) For now, however, paid subscribers still get significantly more regular updates and are always at the 'top of the pile' on our crawlers and cache updaters.
Tom Parish recently interviewed me for his Talking Portraits podcast. We talked about FeedDigest, the future of RSS, and related topics. It was fun! Check out the interview! I cover a lot of info about the forthcoming version of FeedDigest, so check it out.
I (Peter Cooper, founder of FeedDigest) will be in Los Angeles (and maybe San Francisco) in March 2006. I'm particularly interested in meeting anyone involved in the RSS and Web applications scene. We haven't decided whether to go to San Francisco or not yet, so if anyone wants to give me a reason to go.. :)
I've been to LA several times, but never San Francisco (or Silicon Valley) and I'd love to get a feel for the whole Silicon Valley thing. Any tips, advice, or places to go are welcomed.
This is out of our hands, but as many people have been asking about it, it seems del.icio.us's RSS feeds are running about 24 hours behind schedule. del.icio.us often run their RSS server behind the rest of the pack when they're struggling with capacity, and it seems it's really behind over the past day or two. Usually it clears up after about 24 hours, but we thought we should let you know, it's not us, it's their feeds. We send all our best wishes to the del.icio.us team in sorting this out and thank you for your patience.