Using The Feed Manager

Using The Feed Manager

In order to understand just what Feed Manager is, and what it does, we first must understand feeds. Feeds (more specifically RSS or Atom feeds) are simply XML files that provide a mechanism to deliver links (usually stamped with a date) to subscribers. In mojoPortal content management system, feeds are provided for users to subscribe to notifications about new blog posts and forum posts, as well as upcoming events in Event Calendar Pro. Once you implement Feed Manager, it will also provide its own feed of the combined source feeds.

So, now that we know what a feed is, how can we consume it? One typical way is through a web browser. When you are browsing a site, you will often find a link or image that will enable you to subscribe to a feed for the page you are browsing. For instance, here on mojoPortal.com, the Blog page has an image link at the upper right side: Feed Manager Icon. If your site is using the built-in feed mechanism, and you hover your mouse over the RSS icon, you will see a url that looks something like "http://mysite/blog123rss.aspx". Clicking on this link will take you to a specially formatted XML page that triggers your browser to offer a subscription to the feed. mojoPortal's feed-generating features also offer the optional use of Google Feedburner. The blog on this site is a good example of how this works. If you click on the RSS feed on the mojoPortal.com blog, it leads you to Google Feedburner. There you are presented with a number of different methods to subscribe to the feed. You will also find an option to "view XML," and for browser subscriptions, that is the one you would want to choose. Again, choosing that option will trigger the browser to prompt you about subscribing to the feed. Lots of people subscribe to feeds using feed readers such as Google Reader.

What happens when you click an RSS XML link depends upon the browser. Firefox offers you the option to create a "Live Bookmark," which appears as a folder in your bookmarks or bookmarks toolbar, but is constantly updated as the source feed is refreshed. Internet Explorer will display the links in the feed along with a "subscribe to this feed link."

Besides browsers, feeds can be consumed by dedicated RSS readers or other programs you install on your PC. Feeds can also be consumed by the mojoPortal Feed Manager feature!

Feed Manager is used to read one or more feeds, and display them in a list or (as of mojoPortal 2.3.5.8) a scrolling box. So, why would you want to use Feed Manager? A good example might be creating a special area on your homepage that lists your most recent blog posts. You might also want to combine feeds together. For instance, what if you had three calendars in different areas of your site? Without Feed Manager, users would have to subscribe to three separate feeds to view all of your events. To provide a better experience for your users, you could use Feed Manager to provide a consolidated list of all of your upcoming events in one place (and let them subscribe to that consolidated feed as well). And if you really want to be fancy, you can even pull feeds from other sites and display them on your own site.

Now let's go through a simple example of how you could set up Feed Manager on your site. Suppose that you have a blog, and you'd like to show your most recent blog entries on your main page.

  1. Determine the feed URL for your blog. You should navigate to the blog, right-click the RSS icon, and select the appropriate option to add that link URL to your clipboard. If the RSS icon is not displayed, look in the blog settings and make sure the icon is enabled.
  2. Add an instance of Feed Manager to your home page.
  3. Click on the Add/Edit Feeds link. Paste the URL from step 1 into the Feed URL box.

That's it! You will have an abbreviated list of your blog postings, along with their published dates, on your home page. Go into settings and you can customize your Feed Manager's display quite extensively. With mojoPortal version 2.3.5.8 or later, you can even turn your list into a scrolling "news ticker".

Remember that you can add multiple feeds to one instance of Feed Manager. When you do so, Feed Manager will combine all of the incoming feeds into one list, sorted by the date/time of each entry.

Created 2010-12-10 Jamie Eubanks
Modified 2010-12-14 Jamie Eubanks