More on the New feedhaus Features

Nearly every new user who gets on feedhaus has the same question: can I narrow the tag cloud down to only the topics/tags that I care about? My answer is no, not yet, but soon! How soon this happens is anyone’s guess, but let me update you on the progress of our newest features:

1. Search

This feature made the top of our list because you really can’t have personalization or profiling without first opening up access to all the tags in feedhaus. (In case you haven’t already noticed, only the top 100 are showing on the home page.) We’re designing search so that you can easily find feeds, articles (current or past), tags and users. The search is powered by a great, turnkey opensource search engine called Lucene.

2. Personalization

This has been the most requested feature to date. And it’ll be here . . . soon! You’ll be able to create as many personal tag clouds as you want and drag the tags you want to watch into each tag cloud. You’ll be able to name these personalized tag clouds and share them with your friends, essentially allowing you to design your own constantly up-to-date news site.

3. User Profiling and Social Networking

The user profile feature will allow you to see what other people are tagging and what feeds they’re adding (if they choose to share). You can also browse other people’s tag clouds and copy them, adding your own tags or removing those you don’t care about. If you like another person’s “taste” in the news, you can add them as a friend. Lastly, we all love a competition, so we’re adding a “top contributor” page and showing each person’s rank, which will be calculated based on how many feeds he or she has added.

Be on the lookout for these new features and, as always, leave your comments here or drop us a line at [email protected].

feedhaus Alpha 2 is Live

We made a few notable changes, including revamping the “add a feed” page by adding clearer feedback and better instructions. We also made the feed adding, indexing and aggregating a lot more robust by fixing some bugs deep within the feed processing engine.

We’re trying our best to emphasize that this is a social news site, so we added the orange button (on the right) to encourage people to add their own content.

Coming in the next alpha build: the much anticipated search feature, along with perhaps some personalization and/or user profiling bits. More about these new features to come….

feedhaus Public Alpha Begins . . . Now!

feedhaus_public_alphaWe’ve put the “Alpha 1” build up and removed the password protection, which marks the beginning of the feedhaus public alpha!

In this build, we’ve repaired a lot of the IE problems (although there are still a few sneaky issues) and revamped the forms along with other parts of the UI. The “add a feed” page is much more robust now — if you enter a web site URL instead of a feed URL, it will actually search the page for one or more feed URL(s) and pre-populate the form for you. (Thanks Andrew for implementing this great feature.)

We’ve also changed our slogan from “What’s Hot Now” to “Be the First to Know.”

One known issues is that the history slider is still a little wonky and it will be for several days (until enough snapshots exist for it to scroll smoothly). This problem will be with us for about a week or so and then it will work itself out. Think of it as feedhaus’ “growing pains.”

So, have at it, folks!

And please report problems and suggestions by commenting on this blog or sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Realtime Features of feedhaus

For those of you taking part in the private alpha, did anyone notice any of Feedhaus‘s realtime features?

Well, here are some hints as to where to look:

1) The main tag cloud — if a new story comes in that’s associated with one (or more) of the tags, the tags will blink and then grow. And, if a feed hasn’t been updated in a while, the tag will shrink.

2) The “detail” page — when you click on a tag, you get stories, flickr photos and YouTube videos. If a new story comes in while you’re on a detail page, it will magically appear at the top of the story list! Plus, the photo badge from flickr is constantly updating too.

3) The top stories — I’m sure you noticed the top five stories that appear and then “drop out” of site. But did you notice that they’re constantly changing? Those represent the five most recently added stories across all feeds in Feedhaus!

Now, are these features really realtime? Well, not really. But they’re pretty close. We built a multithreaded agent, the Feed Update Daemon (or FUD), which runs every 30 seconds to check every feed in the system for updates. FUD’s threads push updates to a Cometd-powered web service which pushes them to a browser near you using a revolutionary feature called continuations (a.k.a. long polling).

If nothing in the last paragraph made any sense to you, that’s okay — you can still enjoy using the realtime features in Feedhaus!

We’re alpha!

I’m very pleased to announce that this evening I installed Build 0 on our development server, so now we’re officially alpha.

Here’s the note I sent to the people who registered for the private alpha:

Greetings,

Based on the interest you’ve expressed in doing an early evaluation of the web’s newest community news aggregator, I’m sending you instructions on how to sign into the feedhaus private alpha.

1) Visit http://www.feedhaus.com.

2) Enter the username “********” and the password “********”. That’s it, you’re in!

Here’s a small primer on how to use the site:

First, check out the newest stories that appear at the top (you can’t miss ’em). Then, click on any tag to see all articles across all feeds that match that tag, along with relevant photos and videos. Finally, slide the history slider at the bottom backward to see what the tags and articles looked like in the past.

You can always return to the present by clicking on the feedhaus logo in the upper left.

That’s the entire end-user experience. However, if you want to become a power-user, I recommend that you click on the “register” link to create an account. You’ll need to fill out a form and validate your e-mail address. After that, you’ll be able to tag feeds, which makes you a contributor to feedhaus’s concept of “what’s hot now.” Click “add a feed,” enter the feed URL (RSS or Atom), enter some tags, and off you go. Remember, unlike del.icio.us, you’re tagging feeds, not web sites. So instead of entering http://www.cnn.com, you’ll want to find CNN’s RSS or Atom feed and then add that URL (for example, see http://www.cnn.com/services/rss/).

The outer basic authentication will be removed when we go to beta, but for now, we need your help in ferreting out as many bugs as possible. We’re also interested in usability suggestions and any other feedback. Please channel all feedback through the blog (by commenting here).

That’s it! Go get ’em and thanks a million for your help!

Best regards,
Chris Bucchere

P.S.: Thanks to Andrew Bays for all his hard work on the feedhaus backend and to Allison Bucchere for her fabulous visual and graphic design.

It’s not too late to register for the alpha! E-mail us at [email protected] to join the party.