Archive for November, 2006

New Beta Version Available For Testing

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Rather than do the trendy, Web 2.0 thing and make FeedBlendr perpertually beta, I’m going to have a limited-time version up at http://beta.feedblendr.com to test out a new version of the core engine that I’ve been working on over the past few months. This is live right now, so please check it out. New features you may (or may not) notice are:

  • Updated funky design (thanks again Ray Hernandez!)
  • Supports podcasts/video blogs now!
  • Fancy online reader for viewing the contents of your blend, including embedded audio/video
  • Mobile reader – allows you to view a blend in a lightweight format specially designed for phones/PDAs etc.
  • JavaScript “export” to allow you to drop the contents of a blend into your own page and style it to suit your layout using simple CSS.
  • Supports custom XML-extensions (like MediaRSS, GeoRSS etc) on the specific entries sourced from feeds which contained them
  • Default output format is now Atom
  • Much-improved OPML/bulk feed blending operations
  • Fancy AJAX feed checking that actually works
  • Much better caching/crawling engine (hopefully) to improve response times and server performance
  • Whiz-bang REST/OPML/XML-based API that will allow developers to build some cool stuff with Blendr as part of it (if you’re into that sort of thing)

I’d really love it if people could try out some blends on the beta version, and let me know how it goes. Specifically I want to know about any problems you have, but feel free to lavish me with praise as well :) No need to tell me that the “about”, “blog”, “tips” and “contact” links don’t work either – they will when it goes live!
WARNING: Blends created on beta.feedblendr.com will NOT be transferred over to the live version once the beta phase is complete (within a few weeks), so please only use it for testing!

Refreshing Problem On Blends

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Having some sort of problem with refreshing the contents of feeds right now which I’m looking into.

Basically this will mean that your blends will appear to not have any new posts in them, even though the source feeds are updating.

It looks like this is actually a file-system problem being caused by there being too many files in a single directory and thus confusing the system into thinking that files are fresh (there’s over 45,000 files in cache directory…)

I’ll be fixing this today, but the change won’t be live until tonight most likely. Sorry for the delay.

UPDATE (7:00pm WST): This problem should be “fixed” now, at least for long enough to roll out the new version of FeedBlendr. The problem was indeed in the caching model, and it goes a little something like this:

MagpieRSS uses an md5 hash of the URL where it got a feed from to create a filename to store its cached copy under. That’s fine under normal circumstances, but I had over 45,000 cache files in a single directory, and PHP was choking when trying to figure out if a file was fresh or stale, and for some reason it was assuming it was fresh.

I’ve adjusted the way that Magpie caches files, so now it’s using a directory structure 5 levels deep, based on the md5 name of the cache file, which should mean that at the deepest level, there are less files per directory, thus avoiding this problem for a while.

Thanks for your patience and I hope it didn’t cause too many problems for you all out there. Let’s all look forward to the new version (coming soon, honest!), which will hopefully work around things like this!