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FeedWelder closing on January 1, 2015

Dear friends and beta testers of FeedWelder,

We’d like to let you know that we’re closing the doors of FeedWelder on January 1, 2015.

We started this project in 2010 while we were both working full time at MIT. Due to the demands of busy lives and multiple projects, we never made FeedWelder live.

It’s been a learning experience for us and we’d like to thank all of our beta testers who helped us improve it!

We have now each moved on to other projects. Sands is is a computational artist, data scientist, and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Nicole is an independent user experience professional, helping librarians & educators effectively use mobile technologies.

We believe there is still a need for a customizable feed aggregation tool that’s easy to use and better than Yahoo Pipes. If you would like to talk to us about purchasing FeedWelder, use this contact form.

Thanks for your support!

Nicole Hennig and Sands Fish
FeedWelder Co-Founders
http://nicolehennig.com/
http://sandsfish.com/

Do you need permission to display third-party RSS feeds on your website?

If you’re wondering about the legality of displaying feeds from third-party sites on your website, here’s a good article to read.

It’s from the Citizens Media Law Project at Harvard and provides legal best practices for aggregation via RSS. The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices (PDF).

Here are the practices they recommend:

  • Reproduce only those portions of the headline or article that are necessary to make your point or to identify the story. Do not reproduce the story in its entirety.
  • Try not to use all, or even the majority, of articles available from a single source. Limit yourself to those articles that are directly relevant to your audience.
  • Prominently identify the source of the article.
  • Whenever possible, link to the original source of the article.
    When possible, provide context or commentary for the material you use.

FeedWelder makes it easy to comply with these practices. The headline of each story in your feed links to the original website. You can display the source under each headline. You can easily control how much of the description to show for each story (or hide the description completely and send people to the original site from each headline).

To help with limiting the feed to articles that are relevant to your site, you can use our keyword filter to show only stories that contain particular words.

We encourage our users to follow these guidelines.

How to set up a website that automatically updates with fresh content, using FeedWelder

Here is an example of a web page that is continually updated with fresh content, using FeedWelder to blend feeds.

Best Apps for Academics is a site I created that recommends the best mobile apps for students and professors.

Best Apps for Academics

On the “Keeping Up” page, you’ll see a continually updated stream of fresh news stories from four blogs that were selected with appropriate content.

Keeping up page

To create this, I entered each feed from those four blogs into the FeedWelder mix form.

FeedWelder's new mix form

(Click image to view larger version).

Next, I adjusted a few settings, to control the display. I set it to display 30 stories, with no more than 300 characters in each description.

Customize mix form.

(Click image to view larger version).

Then I set it to sort by date with the newest items first, and to open links in a new window. I also kept the default setting to “filter items with duplicate URLs.” This is handy when you’re blending feeds from different categories within the same blog, because some stories might appear in more than one category.

More ways to customize the mix.

(Click image to view larger version).

I then selected a theme called “title/source/date/plain.” You can choose from pre-made themes in FeedWelder, or create and save your own themes.

Select or create a theme.

(Click image to view larger version).

As you add or change these settings, a live preview appears in the right sidebar, so you can see how your mix will look when displayed on your site.

Live preview

(Click image to view larger version).

Finally, I clicked the button, “save and get code.”
Save and get code.

This brings up a page with the javascript code that can be copied and pasted into your HTML.

Copy and paste the code into your site.

(Click image to view larger version).

After you paste the code into your HTML, the site will update with new stories as they appear in the feeds. If you like, you can go back to FeedWelder anytime to adjust the settings. There is no need to touch the code again, it will update on your page right away.

Another option is to copy a new resulting RSS feed, made from the feeds that were mixed. You can use this in any way you like.
RSS feed from combined feeds

FeedWelder makes it easy to set up pages that are continually feed with new content from feeds that you select.

We also have a keyword filter, in case you would like to filter out stories that contain certain words or only show stories that include certain words.

Sign up now to be notified when FeedWelder is live!

Using FeedWelder on WordPress sites

Here’s a question we’ve had. “Can I use FeedWelder on my WordPress site?”

The answer is, it depends.

If your site is running on self-hosted WordPress, then yes, it will work fine.

If your site is on WordPress.com, then no. That’s because WordPress.com doesn’t allow third-party javascript code. If you paste in your code from a FeedWelder mix, it will get stripped out when you save the page or post.

Here’s what they say about it:

WordPress.com is a type of shared environment, where all users are running off of the same software. This is great because it allows us at Automattic to update millions of blogs at the same time with a single click. It means we can fix bugs or offer new features very quickly, which is a win for you as users. Having all users running on the same software can also be dangerous. If we aren’t careful, one user has the potential to take down the entire site. So this is why we need to limit some of the things you post on your blog.

Users are not allowed to post JavaScript on WordPress.com blogs. JavaScript can be used for malicious purposes. As an example, JavaScript has taken sites such as MySpace.com and LiveJournal offline in the past. The security of all WordPress.com blogs is a top priority for us, and until we can guarantee scripting languages will not be harmful, they will not be permitted.

JavaScript from trusted partners, such as YouTube and Google Video, is converted into a WordPress shortcode when a post is saved.

http://en.support.wordpress.com/code/

So for now, you can only use FeedWelder on a self-hosted WordPress site.

How to save search engine results as an RSS feed

Did you know that you can save the results of a search as a feed and get embed code for that feed to display in a web page?

Here’s an example of a web page that is being fed with the results of the search: “content curation” from the Bing search engine.

Here’s how it works:

1. Type your search query into http://bing.com. For example, type:

“content curation”

2. On the results screen in the address bar, erase everything after your search terms:

before: http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22content+curation %22&go=&qs=n&form=QBRE&pq=%22content+curation%22&sc=8-18&sp=-1&sk=

after: http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22content+curation%22

(If your search has quotation marks around the words, be sure to include the %22 before and after the keywords. It represents the quotation marks).

3. Next, append this to the URL: &format=rss

Here’s how your feed will look:
http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22content+curation%22&format=rss

Use this type of feed to get continually updated search results on any topic you like! Subscribe to it in your feed reader, or embed the results in a webpage using FeedWelder or other mashup tools.

Here’s another example of a webpage being fed with the results of a saved search.
Location-Independent Lifestyle: saved searches

In a future post I’ll show you how to use FeedWelder to combine multiple feeds and get embed code for your website. Feedwelder is much easier than Yahoo Pipes for this type of task.

Aggregate, Filter and Publish RSS Feeds On Your Site with FeedWelder

One of our beta testers, Robin Good, has published a review of FeedWelder on Content Curation World.

Excerpt:

Feedwelder is a new web app for news and content curators that allows you to easily aggregate, mix and filter two or more RSS feeds and then to get a reliable JavaScript code to publish them on your website or bog.

Feedwelder does an excellent job of simplifying the need to mix multiple RSS feed together, eliminating duplicates and filtering the resulting mix according to your own specifications.

See the complete review for more details and a screen shot: Aggregate, filter and publish RSS feeds on your site with FeedWelder.

Better than Yahoo Pipes for RSS mashups

Have you ever been frustrated when using Yahoo Pipes to create RSS mashups? We have! That’s one of the reasons we built Feedwelder.

Feedwelder is:

  • easier to use (no weird syntax to learn, just fill out a form)
  • very customizable (choose from themes or insert your own CSS styles)
  • reliable (since we are a paid service, we won’t shut down unexpectedly, like Google Reader!)

Sign up now to be a beta tester and get a free account for one year.

Customize your RSS mashups with Feedwelder’s new keyword filter

Feedwelder now has a keyword filter! Now you can include or exclude particular words or phrases from your mix.

Customize mix with keyword filter

Sign up to be notified when we’re live! (and check the box if you would like to help us beta test)

Best Apps for Academics uses Feedwelder to curate news

Here’s another example of Feedwelder being used to aggregate news.

Best Apps for Academics: News

This site takes the feeds from 4 excellent blogs about apps and mixes them together into one feed, displayed on the site. Feedwelder makes it very simple to combine blog feeds into one master feed. It also makes it easy to control the display of it on your site.

You can select how many stories to show, which elements to show (title, author, source, date, description), and you can style the output to match your website.

Feedwelder is still in invitation-only mode, but will be opening to all sometime this year! Sign up here if you’d like to be notified when it’s live.

Two sites that use Feedwelder to curate content

Here are two sites that use Feedwelder to blend and display RSS feed content:

You can save search results as RSS feeds, as seen on this page that uses top hits from a Bing search on two different phrases.

You can also save a tag on Flickr as a feed and use it to display a fresh feed of new photos on your site.

For more how-to tips, download our free guide: Easy RSS Mashups!