Overview of the Feedservice

The VAOS Feedservice or "the Feeder" can be used to fetch your favorite feeds and imports them into VA as "messages".

The Feeder checks the feed for new articles, loads them down and imports them to VA. This can be automated like other tasks in VA, so that you don't need to think about it anymore.

VAOS presents the feeds in a new service named "Feeds" to you. This service will contain the articles in the well-known folder structure using two hierarchies, folders and subfolders, for structuring. Each time you update the feed new articles will be added and imported as messages to this structure. They are then displayed like any other message. We have an HTML and a text version of each article, but the text versions will usually be useless, so you have to have HTML viewing enabled in VA (uncheck Options, Decode, Avoid displaying HTML messages if possible).

The main problems we face are

  • determine the "newness" of articles
  • exclude unwanted content or "message unfriendly" layout from the articles

Unfortunately, not all feeds offer dates or use the correct date formats. So, you have to determine the correct options and set them when adding a new feed.

There are two filter types that fetch excerpts from pages and exclude any unwanted content. For this to work you have to check the HTML source of the articles. There is also an option that allows you to fetch the print version of an article instead of the normal browser display version as print versions are optimized for printing on black and white and usually contain only the single article. That very much fits what we want to see as a message in VA.

That is why each new feed needs a little bit of configuration on your part. Especially the correct usage of filters may be difficult for starters. You can import feeds without any filtering, but in this case you get the same page you would see in your browser, including advertisements, navigation and what not and the viewing experience won't be really satisfactory.

Besides the php scripts the Feeder needs a modified import32.exe that is provided on the Downloads page.

If you want to use the Feeder like a normal service in Comms and Scheduler you also need a modified va32.exe that is at the moment only available for developers. Which means for the time being you cannot use Comms or the Scheduler for Feeds blinks. You have to run them manually or from the Windows task scheduler. This functionality will be included with VAOS 6.2 or 6.3.

Read all the available information here, so that you understand how the Feeder works, then go to the Installation Steps page and work thru it. I recommend starting with the pre-configured feeds that come with the initial feeds.ini. Once that works you can disable the ones you don't want and add your own.

A detailed how-to for adding new feeds is on the Feeder Configuration page. That page has also links to detailed documentation of the three configuration files.

There are also detailed instructions for testing your feed configuration and Troubleshooting the script in general.

vaosfeeds/overview.txt · Last modified: 14.05.2007 21:07 by kai
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