Listening to OPML changes

At work we’re putting together a wiki page which lists which feeds we should probably all be subscribed to. This mirrors the increasing amount of RSS we’re creating both in the team and across the University as a whole.

We’re writing the list of feeds as a bulleted list which links to both the main site and the feed you’ll need to subscribe to. Obviously this is just an XOXO list.

What this means is that we can use one of the many tools (hopefully Les Orchard will have done this for me) to convert this list to OPML which anyone can then subscribe to in their aggregator.

The problem is this:

  •  we have to use desktop aggregators because many of the internals feeds use HTTP authentication and everyone also maintaine their own subscriptions
  • the list of feeds we should be subscribed to will change occassionally (especially over the next few weeks)
  • a change in the feed list means either each person will have to re-import the entire list, or identify the new/changed feed(s) and add them to their subscriptions.

What we really need is an aggregator which can subscribe to an OPML file (yes yes, this is the OPML Reading List meme from ages ago).

At the moment, that means BlogBridge. BlogBridge is an open-source Java-based desktop aggregator (which actually responds quickly enough to feel native, although like all Swing apps it doesn’t look anything like a native application).

I’ve tried to use BlogBridge in the past and not really liked it, but back in July I promised D’Arcy that I’d take a look at it again, and this looks like the time to make good on that promise (especially now that he’s been promoted to expert guide).

An initial go shows that it imports my FeedReader OPML just fine (although it breaks up each folder of feeds into its own representation which it calls “Guides”) but that it doesn’t support “river of news” style reading. That is, I can’t select one of my “guides” and instantly see all the unread articles – I have to navigate between individual feeds (even if it’s just by pressing space). This is definitely not the behaviour I want, but this blog post suggests that I should be able to create a SmartFeed of unread items for each guide and read those instead, but again this probably isn’t what I want. I don’t even want to see the list of feeds – I just want to click each ‘Guide’ and view the unread items from all the feeds in that guide.

I guess it’s lucky I’m a Java developer then, right?

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2 thoughts on “Listening to OPML changes”

  1. Phil, Pito Salas here, of the BlogBridge team. We’ve considered building a RON feature just like you describe but most users have told us that they think using SmartFeeds for the purpose does the trick and is actually far more flexible.

    However, if you are inspired, we’d be glad to do what we can to help you get the feature implemented.

    Would love to have you as one of our happy users!

  2. Thanks for the comment Pito!

    Like I said in the post, my problem is that I don’t actually care about the list of feeds, and in my case, I actually want one smartfeed per Guide. As far as I can see, that means I’d have to enter the Guide title by hand for each Guide I want a smartfeed for, and then I’d have to create a new Guide with my smartfeeds in, and then navigate by hand through those.

    I realise this means that BlogBridge may not be exactly what I’m looking for in this regard, which is fine, but it is the only aggregator I’ve tried to far which supports OPML subscription so I’ll probably have a *very* quick go at seeing if I can make it behave how I want.

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