FeedWordPress 0.91

Update 2007-11-21: FeedWordPress 0.91 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 0.991 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

FeedWordPress 0.91 is now available for download.

0.91 is a release that squashes a few bugs and adds a few useful features. Really, it adds enough useful features that it’s worth an increment of 0.1 rather than 0.01, but it’s not where I want FeedWordPress to be for version 1.0 yet, and it certainly hasn’t regressed to 0.10, so we’ll just call it 0.91 and grit our teeth at the vagaries of the decimal system for the time being.

Give it a whirl, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, applause, brickbats, etc. I’ll be updating the documentation shortly to reflect the changes since 0.9. In the meantime, here’s the highlight reel:

Features Added

  1. Category aliases: many times, when you have an aggregation website with many contributors, you will end up with several post categories that mean more or less the same thing but have slightly names (for example, Feminist Blogs ended up with “Feminism,” “Feminism, sexism, etc.”, “feministy stuff,” “Gender Issues”, “Women’s Issues”, and so on). You can now designate “aliases” for a category so that posts with their category set to either the actual name of the category or to any of its aliases will be placed in that category. To add an “alias” for a category, (1) log in to the WordPress Dashboard and (2) go to Manage –> Categories, (3) click the “Edit” link for the category that you want to add the alias for, and (4) add a line like the following, on a line by itself, to the “Description” field:

    a.k.a.: Other category name
    

    (Of course, you should substitute the actual alias for “Other category name”.)

  2. Hard-coded titles and taglines: By default, FeedWordPress automatically updates the Link Name and Link Description fields on a syndicated feed using the title and the tagline or description contained in the newsfeed. (So, for example, if a contributor changes the title of her blog, the new title will automatically be reflected in your “Contributors” section the next time that FeedWordPress updates its content.) If you want to stop FeedWordPress from automatically updating these fields for a particular feed (for example, because you want to use an abbreviated title or tagline for reasons of space), you can now do so by (1) going to Links –> Syndicated, (2) clicking the “Edit” link for the feed that you want to change the title or tagline for, (3) entering your hard-coded title and/or tagline in the Link Name and/or Link Description field, then (4) adding a line like this to the Link Notes section:

     hardcode name: yes
    

    Or a line like this:

     hardcode description: yes
    

    hardcode name will ensure that FeedWordPress uses your hand-entered Link Name; hardcode description will ensure that FeedWordPress uses your hand-entered Link Description; adding both lines will ensure that FeedWordPress uses both your hand-entered Link Name and your hand-entered Link Description.

  3. Ignoring syndicated categories: By default, FeedWordPress places syndicated posts in the same categories that the newsfeed they were syndicated from places them in (so, for example, if one of your contributors placed a post in the “News” category on her blog, FeedWordPress would place the syndicated post in the “News” category on your blog; if the “News” category did not yet exist, FeedWordPress would create it automatically). If you want FeedWordPress to place posts from a particular feed in only the categories you manually set, and ignore the categories on the syndication feed, you can now do so by (1) going to Links –> Syndicated, (2) clicking the “Edit” link for the feed that you want to change, then (3) adding a line like this to the Link Notes section:

     hardcode categories: yes
    

Bug fixes

  1. If you got an error message like this when you tried to add a new feed for syndication:

      Fatal error: Call to undefined function: curl_init() in /.../feedwordpress.php on line 1353
    

    … you can fix the problem by upgrading to FeedWordPress 0.91. FeedWordPress no longer depends on the cURL PHP extension. It now uses the Snoopy module, which comes packaged with all WordPress 1.5 installations, to fetch data from any URI that it needs to fetch data from.

  2. Manual editing of feed settings using the Link Notes section could introduce a couple of bugs under some web browsers–for example, by tacking a strange character (a carriage return, or "\r", specifically). This has been fixed: carriage returns (and, indeed, any trailing whitespace) will no longer screw up your settings.

    Thanks to Ray Lischner for pointing this bug out.

  3. If you used FeedWordPress to syndicate posts on a blog that you also posted to directly through the WordPress Dashboard, you may have noticed that FeedWordPress 0.9 disabled WordPress’s automatic formatting filter. (So if FeedWordPress was activated, any posts that you made directly into WordPress wouldn’t have <p>...</p> tags wrapped around paragraphs unless you hand-coded them in.) This was not so much a bug as a regrettable side-effect of the way I initially handled the problem of keeping WordPress’s filters from mangling the HTML on syndicated posts. In any case, it is now fixed: FeedWordPress stops the normal formatting filters from working only on syndicated posts (which are already in HTML), and not on any posts or pages that you posted directly to your site.

    Thanks to Alun for reminding me to fix this.

  4. If a newsfeed provides an excerpt or summary for a particular post, FeedWordPress 0.91 now uses it as the excerpt for the post on your aggregator site. (In FeedWordPress 0.8 and 0.9, the excerpt was discarded.) If no excerpt is provided, FeedWordPress will generate one from the post content.

Issues not yet fixed

This is a fallen world, and unfortunately there are a few bugs on the docket that have not yet been squashed:

  1. Blank page with no options under Options –> Syndication: This is a bug with WordPress 1.5, not with FeedWordPress. It results from a bug in WordPress 1.5’s Dashboard that makes it possible for the custom Options pages that plugins define to collide with one another. You may be able to solve the problem by deactivating all plugins except for FeedWordPress. (You can then re-activate plugins, one at a time, to see which one causes the collision.) Alternatively, you download an updated version of wp-admin/menu-header.php and upload it to the wp-admin directory of your WordPress installation. This bug will by fixed in WordPress 1.5.1.

  2. Some feeds with alternative character sets get mangled: FeedWordPress mostly handles alternative character sets fairly well, but its ability to do so depends on support from (1) MagpieRSS, (2) PHP, and (3) in PHP 4.x, the iconv library. This can make the whole affair pretty complicated, and at least one user has reported trouble (with incorrect conversion of Cyrillic characters encoded in windows-1251). This has not yet been fixed, because the multiple layers of software involved make it a non-trivial problem to solve. In the meantime, if you have been getting incorrect conversions of the character set on one of your feeds, you can work around the problem by restoring the version of wp-includes/rss-functions.php which comes with WordPress 1.5, instead of using the optional upgrade included with FeedWordPress.