Relatively Simple RSS Aggregation

March 20, 2006

I recently posted about my need for a simpler RSS aggregator.

I worked through the massive list of existing RSS aggregators at wikipedia and couldn't reallly find something that did exactly what I wanted and worked.

I needed something that was simple, cached hourly, displayed various encodings well and worked with RSS and Atom formats. Most importantly, I wanted something I could install on my own server, and it needed to be community oriented (not designed for a single reader).

Most of the existing solutions on the web are hosted by a third party, and are limited in the number of feeds that they can aggregate.

A robust, simple option for a thrid-party hosted aggregator is Feed2JS, but if you want a bunch of feeds on your site you'll have to use a bit of javascript for each one. Multiple feeds get ugly fast, and if their server goes down, your scripts go down.

The best hosted solution I found was Gregarius, which has a lovely community. I think that gregarious will take the cake sometime this year as aggregating catches on. For now, however, the plugins are pretty limited — you are locked into a personal reader with "Read/Unread" tagging. (Which makes Gregarious a great replacement for a newsreader like Bloglines, but it's not good for a community aggregator where lots of people visit.)

If I were a better person I'd just write a Gregarius plugin, but instead I've just reworked some of Feed2JS's code (which is in turn dependent on the Magpie RSS parser.)

You can download it here.

It's a index.php file with an "admin" folder. Drop it on your server in an appropriate directory and you should have a page that displays 15 biofuels blogs. NOTE: if you don't know what php is or don't have ftp access to your server, just use Feed2JS and insert their javascript into your page.

Otherwise edit the php file with the rss or atom feeds you want to include. It will probably need a little CSS to spice things up. You can send comments or questions about the script to chris(at) I'll release another version sometime soon with better documentation and a prettier front end.

An example of the styled script in action is here (at the Piedmont Biofuels website).

UPDATE: That page now uses simplepie, which kicks ass.