The first RSS aggregator developed at UserLand was called My.UserLand.Com. It was a centralized application, like Bloglines or My.Yahoo. It first shipped in 1999, alongside My.Netscape.Com, which took a different approach. These two web services helped bootstrap the syndication market as it exists today.
Radio 8, which shipped in early 2002, included an enhanced version the UserLand aggregator, and it quickly became the most popular way to access RSS-based information on the Internet. It’s still used by many people today, although UserLand has now focused on Manila, with my support (I’m still a major shareholder in UserLand and a member of its board of directors).
The aggregator I’m working on is a direct descendent of these two earlier aggregators. All employ the River of News presentation style, that’s why I call this aggregator newsRiver.root.
Why pick it up again?
It’s 2005 now, soon to be 2006. In the four years since Radio 8, there have been lots of aggregators, but honestly, not so many new ideas. I have a few projects I want to do, and since the OPML Editor is totally compatible with Radio, I was able to get the aggregator running here, and have begun to add new features.
My main reason for doing this work is to help bootstrap some new features in the market, specifically in two areas: Podcasting and Reading Lists. But first, I need to get a basic release out, get it running on some servers and desktops, and get feedback from users.
UserLand will get an unrestricted license to my improvements, and may distribute the app commercially or operate it as a service for its customers; it’s entirely up to the management of the company how it wants to use this software, or if it wants to.
I am making it available to the OPML user community under the GNU Public License, as the editor itself is licensed. No need to explain what that allows. I’m hoping that everyone who’s interested in participating in a community development project around RSS aggregation will give this software a try and share their ideas.
The software runs on Windows and Mac OS X.
I plan to have a preliminary testing release available for the hale and hearty adventurers of the OPML community, later today (Murphy-willing). The docs will be sketchy. The goal will be to find out if it works, and where the most pressing needs are for fixes and docs.
Then as the software develops, I’ll make announcements on Scripting News and encourage a broader group of people to use it.
I also hope to operate a public test instance for the members of the Web 2.0 Workgroup. More on that later.