FeedWordPress 0.99 beta 1. Testers wanted.

Update 2007-11-21: FeedWordPress 0.99b1 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 0.991 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

It’s been a long time, for several different personal reasons that don’t bear going into here, but the good news is that I am at long last coming back to active development on FeedWordPress. There are some bug fixes and a lot of feature requests that have been waiting for quite some time; and I will be able to start cleaning these out over the course of the next few days.

Toward that end, I am putting out a beta release of the next version of FeedWordPress. By beta, I really mean beta, not one of those Web 2.0 perpetual beta releases. The point is to put it out there for you all to test out. You should not count on this release being in full working order. There are features due for this release that I haven’t implemented. I will implement them later. Those that I have implemented all seem to be in working order on my end of things, but everyone’s Apache/PHP/MySQL/WordPress/etc. stack is so different that it’s hard to make any promises about how it will work for you, until y’all have had some time to test it. With that pre-amble out of the way, if you are interested in testing out the beta release, you should feel free to download FeedWordPress 0.99b1, read the installation instructions below, give it a test run, and let me know how it works for you.

So, what’s new? Well, a fair amount has changed under the hood, much of it things that you won’t notice, but which will hopefully clean up the code a bit and make compatibility releases quicker and easier to put out in the future. But there are a couple of significant changes that you will notice.

  1. First, FeedWordPress functions have been moved to their own top-level menu, currently called Syndication. To syndicate new feeds, change settings on existing feeds, change global options for FeedWordPress, or to manually instruct FeedWordPress to check for new posts, use the Syndication top-level menu and its submenus.

  2. Second, I am changing the way that FeedWordPress checks for new posts. Specifically, I am making the process somewhat less arcane, and making it possible (more or less) to keep up automatic updates even if you do not have access to cron. To turn this feature on, go to Syndication –> Options and tell FeedWordPress to check for new posts automatically. (This option is currently not on by default.)

    When this option is turned on, FeedWordPress will check for new posts automatically (1) when someone views your page, (2) if it has been ten minutes (or whatever interval you set) since the last time someone viewed your page. This offers a way to keep FeedWordPress up-to-date without having to schedule a cron script. It also simplifies the process of updating if you do choose to use a cron script — just have curl fetch your home page on a fixed schedule (so, for example, I would execute curl http://feministblogs.org/ every 15 minutes to keep Feminist Blogs up-to-date). Note that this is not the same thing as precisely scheduled updates — at a minimum, FeedWordPress will not check for new posts unless and until the next time somebody views your page. But for practical purposes it does allow you to keep your aggregator updated without having to run cron, and it is as close to precisely scheduled updates as you can get without using real scheduling tools such as cron.

  3. I have had several questions about compatibility between FeedWordPress and WordPress 2.2. I have checked this beta release with the latest release of WordPress 2.2 on my testbed server and I have encountered no problems. I do not know of any changes between WordPress 2.1 and 2.2 which would introduce an incompatibility. But please let me know if you have any compatibility issues with WordPress 2.2.

    Note that if you are using the beta release of WordPress 2.3, there are changes to the WordPress category system that probably will cause compatibility problems with FeedWordPress. This should hopefully be fixed in the next beta release, which should be out sometime within the next few days.

  4. As mentioned, I have re-organized a bit. Please make sure you follow the installation instructions below.

Installation instructions: You may have noticed that I have reorganized the file structure of the plugin. Because of this, if you have an older release of FeedWordPress installed, and intend to install the beta release over the older release, first you are going to need to go to your old installation and delete two of the old installation’s files (wp-content/update-feeds.php and wp-content/feedwordpress.php). Once this is done, create a new directory in your plugins directory, wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/, and copy the new release’s plugin files to this directory. If you don’t delete the old files, then they will not get overwritten and there may be a conflict between the old and new versions. If you do not install the new files in their own directory, the menus will probably not work correctly.

Enjoy, and let me know how it works for you!