I've just finished writing our new ocPortal RSS (and Atom) support. We've moved forward a long way, building on what we've had in previous releases. For those that don't know, since version 2 ocPortal has been able to export and import news via RSS. But now a lot more is possible…
- ocPortal can now aggregate RSS feeds
- RSS feed display can be better customised
- The calendar can integrate RSS feeds onto its event display
- Atom support now conforms with the new formalised IETF specification
- Instead of just using RSS for news, we now have RSS for the following:
- Calendar events
- CEDI (formerly 'SEEDY')
- Chat rooms
- Comcode Pages
- The filedump
- Forum topics
- Forum posts
- Gift point transactions
- Most RSS feeds support filtering; for example, for the Birthdays feed, the filter can filter according to usergroup, and for the catalogues feed, it can filter for both catalogue and catalogue categories.
This is all about moving from using RSS as a mechanism for 'news feeds' to a more general method of syndicating time-ordered content. It breaks with what RSS was designed for a little - birthday and calendar RSS feeds use the 'publication date' as an event date instead - but it really opens the door to a lot of interesting usages.
A few fun things for which the new ocPortal RSS support could now be used:
- If some friends/colleagues had their own ocPortal websites, and used the ocPortal calendar for their personal schedules, then they could compare their schedules by overlaying each other's RSS feeds onto each other's calendars; and because this is based on standard technology, they wouldn't all actually have to use ocPortal if they didn't wish - any source with event-based RSS would work
- You could overlay a website's birthday feed over the calendar, to see when member birthdays happen, without having to manually enter any
- You could overlay news feeds onto the calendar, to get an 'almanac' effect
- You could aggregate 10 specialist article feeds, to get a combined list of articles on your front page. This is a popular thing for company websites to do nowadays, to cheaply turn themselves into a portal for their own market
- You could set up a block on the front page of a website that shows all the latest gift point transactions that have occured
It's all very dynamic and a lot of fun .