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1 Sep 04, 2004 00:14    

I've searched these forums and found plenty of requests for rss aggregators but not much information beyond [URL=http://forums.b2evolution.net/viewtopic.php?t=2198]EdB's post[/URL]. I understand that an integrated rss tool is to be included in b2evo in the future. That's wonderful news.

For those out there who need something in the meantime I thought that I'd share how to integrate [url=http://zvonnews.sourceforge.net]zFeeder[/url] for use with b2evolution blogs. I've done it with blogs on my own small network as well as on blogs for a few friends running b2evo software. I found the process quite simple.

zFeeder, or zvonfeeds, is a kickin' little rss aggregator written in php that is designed to live on your web server. It collects rss feeds from web addresses you give it on regular assigned intervals and displays them via the use of templates in a php file which can be included into any other functioning php page. If you have shell access or can ftp to your server space and can run php apps, then you can install zFeeder. Simply [URL=http://zvonnews.sourceforge.net/download.php]download the latest zFeeder package[/URL] and follow the installation instructions. If you have questions regarding the installation, I recommend searching and/ or posting to the [URL=http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=288429]zFeeder Help Forum[/URL].

The only problems I've had with the installation have been server permissions. Depending on your server, you may have to set some of zFeeder's file permissions to 777 for zFeeder to function. If that is the case, I recommend doing it one at a time until things work... creating as small a security hole as possible.

The zFeeder admin page is password protected, but for slightly better security you may wish to install zFeeder into a directory with a name other than the default "newsfeeds." Obviously, that's your choice. If you choose to use a differently named installation directory then please remember to alter any and all required path names accordingly.

I recommend e-mailing the user name and password that you select for the zFeeder admin page to yourself, and then filing that e-mail away in a safe place. There is currently no password retrieval system available for zFeeder of which I'm aware.

Once zFeeder is installed, access the admin page at (http path to your zFeeder installation)/admin.php and set up your username, passwords, and select the default feeds. zFeeder comes with a lot of newsfeeds out of the box. I recommend selecting one of the category templates and deleting any feeds that you don't want, then adding the ones that you wish. Please don't forget to include a numerical setting to represent how many entries of a feed you wish to display (I usually choose five) and how often you'd like the feed cached by zFeeder (I usually select every thirty minutes).

Then select a template for the display of the feeds. There are several to choose from which are included with zFeeder. Most of them have their own style and are set up with tables.

Personally, I didn't like the included templates. I wanted something that would have the same look and feel of my blog. So I created a very simplified template that only displays the name of the rss feed's originating site and the news item or blog post title in an unordered list which draws style information from your blog skin's header. The times of posts and description of the originating web site, if available, can be seen by mouse over. This plain, unordered list template is available [URL=http://www.dementedkitty.com/dkitty/plain.html]here[/URL] (select "save as" from your browser's file menu once the page loads in a new window). You're more than welcome to have a look at [URL=http://www.dementedkitty.com/index.php#feeds]my l33t gray skin[/URL] if you'd like to see the plain template in action. It blends in seamlessly.

If you decide that one of the included templates is favorable, you may wish to edit the length of the posts that are displayed. You may check [URL=http://sourceforge.net/forum/message.php?msg_id=2609311]these[/URL] [URL=http://sourceforge.net/forum/message.php?msg_id=2369131]two[/URL] zFeeder Help Forum threads. They will likely send you in the right direction.

Once you've set up the feeds you desire and selected a template, open the b2evolution _main.php file of the skin you wish to display the feeds. Insert the following code, replacing "/path/to/your/zFeeder/install" with the actual path to your zFeeder installation folder:

<?php include ('/path/to/your/zFeeder/install/zFeeder.php'); ?>


Instead you may choose a relative path such as:

<?php include ('../newsfeeds/zfeeder.php'); ?>


or:

<?php include ('newsfeeds/zfeeder.php'); ?>

Hopefully, that's it! Load your blog's page in a browser and test it. Do you seen the rss feeds? If so, then bravo. If not, triple check the file permissions of the files in your zFeeder insallation directory. Also check the admin page to be sure you've selected a category of rss feeds as default which contains rss feeds to be cached. That may sound silly, but it's a commone mistake. I did it during one installation myself.

Please keep in mind that some servers have extensive firewall protection in regards to php files. You may not be able to access the feeds you want without first whitelisting the urls of those feeds via your server admin. I recomend adding the feed of your own blog to the set you choose as default as a test. If no other feed shows up but your own, then my guess is that your server's firewall won't allow you zFeeder to freely collect the outside feeds. That can be remidied by e-mailing your server admin, explaining that you wish to use zFeeder on one of your pages, and that you'd like the URLs of your desired feeds whitelisted through the server's firewall. Be sure to include the URLs to the desired rss feeds in that e-mail.

If all else fails or you have questions not answered in this brief how to, please either refer to the [URL=http://zvonnews.sourceforge.net/zfeeder.php]zFeeder Documentation[/URL], search/ post to the [URL=http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=288429]zFeeder Help Forum[/URL], or post a reply here. I'm not an expert when it comes to zFeeder but the b2evolution community is a fabulous one. Someone here will probably be able to help.

2 Sep 04, 2004 01:35

Cool! I haven't played with it (yet) but it seems to me the worst part of my hack is addressed by zfeeder - that being the effort involved in getting new feeds displayed. The only issue I can see with it is that it invalidates your xhtml by putting an alt tag after the title tag in a text link. Funny part is the validator only complained once even though viewsource showed that each link was done that way.

By the way I'm done with what I was doing. Almost 100% customizable in the file for skins/skinname, only it does take a hack at _main each time you want to add or remove a feed. Most recent post at http://wonderwinds.com/blog covers it, and I will add another post to the hacks section with the now-stable code included.

And I want your skin! I'll leave a comment with an email because it still doesn't appear in b2evo's skin pile.

3 Sep 04, 2004 02:04

*nod* I noticed that the alt tag didn't validate and that w3c only complained about it once. I found that very odd and meant to mention it in the post above. To me, it's worth the plain template not validating. I use Mozilla almost all the time and the mouse over details don't work (unless a javascript hack is involved) with just the title tag. But if xhtml validation is of the utmost importance then please remove it from the template before using it. It's only listed twice and can be deleted in just a few seconds.

I just read your recent blog post and I like what you've done. A lot.

A skiin link is on the way. :D

4 Sep 04, 2004 02:22

dkitty wrote:

... I use Mozilla almost all the time and the mouse over details don't work (unless a javascript hack is involved) with just the title tag...

Interesting. I'm using the same browser and have a tool tip with my text links, but wasn't getting them with linked images. I went back and put a title in all my images after seeing that it didn't break validation. I suppose it's some sort of end-user-configurable deal? It's also nice to know it's easily removed for those into the validation thing.

5 Sep 04, 2004 11:50

Fear no more, for I have finally finished the mountain for blogs to approve for the recently updated list, and the l33t_gray skin is now on the skins site - http://skins.b2evolution.net

(although I did make one minor change - I put in a button link to b2evolution at the bottom - hope you don't mind...)

6 Sep 04, 2004 15:45

Do you mean that the Powered By block with seven different links to different parts of the b2evo web site wasn't enough? *tongue out*

Seriously, thank you Graham. I read your blog every now and then and I know that you've been rather busy. I don't mind the button at all. I think you chose a good looking button considering the color scheme of the background as well.


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