About TALAggregator

An overview of TALAggregator

Main Features

I wrote TALAggregator because there were a few features that I was looking for that were not present in existing RSS Aggregators.  That and RSS aggregators are fairly easy to write.  Here's the main features I was looking for:

  • Template driven web output.  I wanted to be able to integrate the output from the RSS aggregator into any web page.
  • Multi-user.  I wanted each user to be able to have as many templates as they wanted, and for the aggregator to share feeds across users to reduce load and bandwidth usage.
  • Last-Modified support.  By using Last-Modified work load is reduced all round - a must have.

Other Features

Once I started writing my aggregator I found that there were several other features that were desirable, so I added them in:

  • HTML Handling.  I wanted the templates to be able to include either the text as delivered by the RSS feed (potentially including HTML), or to remove the markup and keep the text.
  • Bad RSS.  Not all RSS is good, and so I added support to try and parse bad RSS.
  • Mozilla side bar.  Keeping the latest articles in the Mozilla sidebar is a great way to keep up-to-date, and was trivial to implement with my template system.
  • Updated articles.  I found that there were several feeds whose <item> elements were updated after first publication.  This meant they would appear several times in the new articles list - so I developed a finger printing technique for determining whether an item was a new one or an updated one.

Other Notes

A few other things that aren't really features, more implementation notes.

  • Performance.  Aggregation performance depends almost entirely on network speed.  Retrieval, parsing, updating, and inserting new articles from a local feed happens in ~0.1 seconds.
  • Times all converted to GMT and stored as GMT.  I'll add support for users to specify a GMT time-offset so that all articles can appear dated either GMT or localtime.
  • Unicode support.  All data is convereted to Unicode before storage, unfortunately MySQL doesn't yet support Unicode, so it then gets converted to the character set of the database.

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Last Modified: Sun, 01 Feb 2015 10:59:33 CET

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Copyright 2021 Colin Stewart

Email: colin at owlfish.com