FAQ

Top Questions

Getting Started

The Basics

BlogBridge

Enterprise

Feed Library

Development

Top Questions

Why do I need BlogBridge?

BlogBridge is designed for people who need to follow many blogs and rss feeds. If all you do online is read the front page of the NYTimes, follow the Red Sox, and read DailyKos then you probably don’t need Blogbridge. But if you read five or ten papers, a dozen or more blogs, track multiple projects, get lots of email alerts or newsletters…if you follow news about clients, industries or companies…if you run marketing, PR, fundraising or political
campaigns…well, BlogBridge could really make your life a lot easier.

Blogbridge lets you to stay up to-the-minute on what you need to know–whether that’s the latest in proteomics, aerospace, encryption, ebay auctions, celebrity gossip, movie deals, or stock prices. If you need to follow specific topics in computer sciece or law, or trends in art or real estate..if you are a collector or if you run a retail business…if you teach a class, engage in research, train employees, or provide professional services, then Blogbridge can help you stay on top of your discipline and interests and actually give you a competitive advantage.

If you aren’t using Blogbridge now, consider the fact some of your competitors probably are.

So save yourself a few headaches. Get all those emails updates out of your inbox and into a feed reader. News and information is increasingly shared through RSS feeds so why not use a terrific aggregator that will grow with your information needs–no matter what computer or operating system you have now or plan to switch to, one that holds on to your collection of feeds and gives you access wherever you are, whatever computer you use.

Blogbridge gets more powerful and interesting with our regular updates. And best of
all? Blogbridge is free!

What kind of user is BlogBridge targetted at?

What kind of user is BlogBridge targetted at? RSS Feeds and Blogging are still fairly new, although we think very exciting new areas. We would like BlogBridge to be useful to users at all levels, including beginners. It is pretty difficult to make easy to use software, so we won’t get it right the first time, but our goal is a truly simple and fun to use application.

What can I do with it?

You can keep up with the avalanche of information coming at you from the web over feeds of all sorts. You can read, sort, filter, subset, display, tag, and even re-publish using BlogBridge and the affiliated BlogBridge Service. Here are some more links to look at:

What can’t I do with it?

While you can’t create or host your own blog with BlogBridge, if you already have a blog, you can even use BlogBridge to create posts based on what you are reading.

Is it really free?

Yes.

What does BlogBridge do?

BlogBridge gathers anything you want that has an RSS feed and makes it all easy to access, organize, review, and even share. While there are other tools that (sort of) do this, BlogBridge is specifically designed to help people who,

  1. Want or need to read a lot of blogs or online news without a lot of hassle; and
  2. People who want to monitor specific topics, trends, ideas, or information online.

BlogBridge is also a great tool for anyone who needs to stay ahead of the info curve in their field—even if you aren’t reading blogs at this time.

For power bloggers, publishers, and taggers, BlogBridge offers advanced features to let them further share what they are learning.

So if you should know everything about neuroscience, pork bellies, real estate in Manhattan, gene therapy, wireless technology, Paris Hilton, the auto industry, the US Congress, IRS rulings, Microsoft, etc. BlogBridge could be just what you need.

What’s a blog?

A blog used to refer to a weblog—that is, a chronicle of an Internet user’s adventures online. Things have changed. Blogs are now not much different from your average website except that they use RSS to signal the world whenever there is fresh content. This website for example is built on a “blog” platform. Think of a blog as a next-generation (i.e., Web 2.0) website, if you like. You can get in many long late-night discussions with people about whether this is accurate or not, but, clearly blogs are here to stay and they are replacing traditional websites.

How does BlogBridge work?

You tell BlogBridge what info you want, and BlogBridge goes and gets it. And it keeps getting it so you don’t have to ask again. Ever. Once it retrieves the info you want, it organizes everything and holds onto it until you don’t want it anymore. Take a look. SCREEN SHOT
BlogBridge actually consists of two pieces: the software you download onto your computers, and services provided by our host computers. The service operates quietly behind the scenes to provide you many of the great capabilities in BlogBridge. For example, BlogBridge will store information about your feeds and other preferences on the service. That way you can take your world with you no matter where you run BlogBridge.

Okay, so how do I download and install BlogBridge?

Download BlogBridge here. It only takes a few minutes until you’re up and running. Also check here for step by step instructions on how to get it up and running. Not that it’s hard, but in case you want some additional details.

What an Expert Guide?

An Expert Guide is simply a collection of feeds around a specific topic that have been selected by someone who has real expertise in that area. They are feeds that people who are interested in your topic are reading regularly—they are, in reality, feeds of influence! Save yourself some time and donwload a guide or two. They’re free. If we don’t have the specific guide you want, try Clipper.

How do I subscribe to a guide?

It’s pretty darn simple. Go to the Guide menu in BlogBridge and choose “Subscribe to Reading List…”. If you happen to know the URL of the reading list, enter it. Otherwise, click on the “Suggest” button and peruse our fine collection of Expert Guides and choose which ones you’d like to follow.

How do I subscribe to a feed?

Pretty simple, actually. Take a look at the diagram below, from our famous (but not yet written) BlogBridge Picture Book. Here it is, step by step:

  1. Click on “Subscribe To Feed”
  2. Fill in the URL to the feed you want. Any URL that relates to the feed will do. Don’t worry about RSS, and all that nonsense!
  3. (Optional) If you want to look at our expert guides, click on “Suggest” and peruse the catalog

That’s all!
suggestion-box-diagram.jpg

Getting Started

What if I have a “dumb” question?

Dumb questions? No such thing. This stuff can be complicated, and we want to make it easy. If you can’t find what you want, please feel free to email us here and we’ll give you an answer as soon as we can.

What’s RSS?

RSS is a way for blogs, feeds, and news to communicate. Think of it as a kind of virtual system of beacons that sites use to signal BlogBridge (and other tools) when content is added. RSS feeds are used by virtually all news organizations and all blogs, by info-rich, rapidly changing sites such as eBay and craigslist, travel and real-estate services, and by many online project management tools. RSS is also being applied in a variety of other ways that are rapidly changing familiar and indispensable Internet tools such as search and email.

The Basics

Is it really free?

Yes.

What if I have a “dumb” question?

Dumb questions? No such thing. This stuff can be complicated, and we want to make it easy. If you can’t find what you want, please feel free to email us here and we’ll give you an answer as soon as we can.

What does BlogBridge do?

BlogBridge gathers anything you want that has an RSS feed and makes it all easy to access, organize, review, and even share. While there are other tools that (sort of) do this, BlogBridge is specifically designed to help people who,

  1. Want or need to read a lot of blogs or online news without a lot of hassle; and
  2. People who want to monitor specific topics, trends, ideas, or information online.

BlogBridge is also a great tool for anyone who needs to stay ahead of the info curve in their field—even if you aren’t reading blogs at this time.

For power bloggers, publishers, and taggers, BlogBridge offers advanced features to let them further share what they are learning.

So if you should know everything about neuroscience, pork bellies, real estate in Manhattan, gene therapy, wireless technology, Paris Hilton, the auto industry, the US Congress, IRS rulings, Microsoft, etc. BlogBridge could be just what you need.

What’s a blog?

A blog used to refer to a weblog—that is, a chronicle of an Internet user’s adventures online. Things have changed. Blogs are now not much different from your average website except that they use RSS to signal the world whenever there is fresh content. This website for example is built on a “blog” platform. Think of a blog as a next-generation (i.e., Web 2.0) website, if you like. You can get in many long late-night discussions with people about whether this is accurate or not, but, clearly blogs are here to stay and they are replacing traditional websites.

What do people do with blogs?

People and companies use blogs in many different ways. Some people use them as online diaries or journals as a way of personal publishing. Blogs are quickly replacing organization newsletters and the traditional press release. Teachers, campaigns, politicians, and government offices use them to keep their stakeholders informed. Trade associations use them to communicate with members. Companies use them to promote products, support users, and test ideas. Businesses also use blogs internally to improve communication and access the power of collective problem-solving and creativity. Experts use them to share their expertise or to engage others in developing ideas. Whatever your interests or need for information, there are probably a few bloggers you’d enjoy reading, just as there are websites worth visiting.

Can I use BlogBridge to publish my own blog?

Sorry, BlogBridge is a reading tool, not a blog writing one. If you want to start a blog, check out Wordpress (free) or Blogger (free), or tools from Blogware, Typepad, and Moveable Type (free and $$). But once you are a blogger, you can add some BlogBridge bling to your blog. Come back later and click here.

What does BlogBridge do (geeky version)?

BlogBridge pretty much does the things that many RSS aggregators do, plus it’s kind of an OMPL aggregator. Think of it as a high-capacity RSS, Atom, OMPL, custom alerts, blog directory, blog search, Ajax desktop blender in one very cool, easy-to-use, easy-to-customize client-based tool—with the friendly option of expert, human-intelligent input to help you access and find really good information.

What’s RSS?

RSS is a way for blogs, feeds, and news to communicate. Think of it as a kind of virtual system of beacons that sites use to signal BlogBridge (and other tools) when content is added. RSS feeds are used by virtually all news organizations and all blogs, by info-rich, rapidly changing sites such as eBay and craigslist, travel and real-estate services, and by many online project management tools. RSS is also being applied in a variety of other ways that are rapidly changing familiar and indispensable Internet tools such as search and email.

What can I do with RSS?

Well, pretty much anything related to finding and sharing information. Let’s talk about finding, first. You can subscribe to 200+ blogs, scan the headlines, read what you want. That’s basic. More interestingly, you can subscribe to an idea or a concept or a trend or a product or a company, etc. and find the headlines and conversations wherever they show up in whatever blog or news service that talks about them. With BlogBridge’s smart feeds, you can refine your searches even more precisely.

You can also use BlogBridge to share by building an expert guide.

And for some really fun (and some funky) uses of RSS, check out this blog post from Steve Rubel.

What’s an aggregator?

An aggregator is basically a software tool that seeks out the feeds you want and brings back the content to your desktop. There are all kinds of different aggregators with all kinds of different features. We encourage you to compare aggregators because we think you’ll like our features and you’ll agree that BlogBridge is the coolest. And it’s free.

How does BlogBridge work?

You tell BlogBridge what info you want, and BlogBridge goes and gets it. And it keeps getting it so you don’t have to ask again. Ever. Once it retrieves the info you want, it organizes everything and holds onto it until you don’t want it anymore. Take a look. SCREEN SHOT
BlogBridge actually consists of two pieces: the software you download onto your computers, and services provided by our host computers. The service operates quietly behind the scenes to provide you many of the great capabilities in BlogBridge. For example, BlogBridge will store information about your feeds and other preferences on the service. That way you can take your world with you no matter where you run BlogBridge.

Okay, so how do I download and install BlogBridge?

Download BlogBridge here. It only takes a few minutes until you’re up and running. Also check here for step by step instructions on how to get it up and running. Not that it’s hard, but in case you want some additional details.

What are the system requirements?

We’re the only desktop aggregator that can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux. To run BlogBridge you need:

Java: 1.5 or later,
Macintosh: OS X 10.3 or later,
Windows: XP, or
Linux: any system with GUI will do
Note: BlogBridge may run on other platforms (e.g. Windows 2000 or Windows ME) but we haven’t tested it there.

Must I subscribe to the BlogBridge service?

Nope, but you should. In case you wonder, here are the top 10 reasons to use BlogBridge Service:

Top 10 Reasons to use BlogBridge Service

  1. It’s free!
  2. You can use BlogBridge on more than one computer and keep your subscriptions
  3. Your preferences and settings also carry over to the other computers
  4. It works even if one computer is a Mac and the other Windows
  5. It’s very fast
  6. If you ever loose your subscriptions, you can restore them from the service
  7. You can take advantage of one-click publishing of Reading Lists
  8. When you buy a new computer your subscriptions and settings are easily moved
  9. If you use a friend’s computer or share one at the airport, you can still get your stuff
  10. It’s free!

What an Expert Guide?

An Expert Guide is simply a collection of feeds around a specific topic that have been selected by someone who has real expertise in that area. They are feeds that people who are interested in your topic are reading regularly—they are, in reality, feeds of influence! Save yourself some time and donwload a guide or two. They’re free. If we don’t have the specific guide you want, try Clipper.

How do I subscribe to a guide?

It’s pretty darn simple. Go to the Guide menu in BlogBridge and choose “Subscribe to Reading List…”. If you happen to know the URL of the reading list, enter it. Otherwise, click on the “Suggest” button and peruse our fine collection of Expert Guides and choose which ones you’d like to follow.

Do the experts update the guides?

Yes, they do and then BlogBridge automatically offers the updates to you.

What happens if I edit a Guide?

Many operations apply to a whole Guide, for example, you can delete a Guide, create a Guide, import a Guide, mark all the articles in a Guide as being read, etc.

If you add feeds to a guide or delete a feed, then, it depends. But don’t worry, no matter what you do, you only affect your copy of the guide: no one else is affected.

So more specifically, you can always add a feed to a guide, and it will only affect you. You can also delete any feed that you added but only if you added it. If you try to delete a guide that was put there by an expert or via the BlogBridge library, then that change applies only to you and no one else.

How do I subscribe to a feed?

Pretty simple, actually. Take a look at the diagram below, from our famous (but not yet written) BlogBridge Picture Book. Here it is, step by step:

  1. Click on “Subscribe To Feed”
  2. Fill in the URL to the feed you want. Any URL that relates to the feed will do. Don’t worry about RSS, and all that nonsense!
  3. (Optional) If you want to look at our expert guides, click on “Suggest” and peruse the catalog

That’s all!
suggestion-box-diagram.jpg

How do I tell if a site has an RSS feed?

Sites with RSS usually (but not always) have this symbol in the header. Or there will be an RSS button like this EXAMPLE on the home page. If you try to add a URL with no feed into BlogBridge, you’ll get this message: EXAMPLE.

BlogBridge

Do Blog Feeds carry a security risk?

C|Net has an article claiming that: Blog feeds may carry security risk.

Personally I think this is a bit alarmist. I’ve not done a count, but I think most aggregators don’t execute Javascript encountered in RSS Feeds. In fact the quality of the HTML found in RSS is so bad that I think most of us do some major scrubbing and cleaning to get it to be meaningful.

BlogBridge does not process Javascript and thus is not vulnerable to this attack. I bet this is true of many if not most of our esteemed competitors.

In general though I think it’s much more likely that malicious Javascript affects pages displayed in the Web Browser, so the focus correctly should remain there.

Overview of Releases: Stable, Weekly (and Final)

There are two major kinds of releases, “weekly” and “stable” (and one minor one, see below.)

Most people should use stable releases, which is what almost all the download links point to. They are ready to use, tested, intermediate releases. They have complete installers and are known to be usable and reliable. Stable releases come out every several months.

We also offer weekly releases which actually come out every 1-2 weeks. They contain the most cutting edge features and are often less well tested. They are pretty much safe to use, but from time to time we will release a dud. Most programmers and technical folks use the weekly releases. To get the weekly release, click on this link.

Finally, there are final releases which are simply the major project milestones,  1.0, 2.0 etc. They represent a whole release with a complete, consistent and well thought out set of features. It is well tested of course, and probably somewhat better documented.

Recommendation:

  • Most people will want to use our stable releases, which are available here as standard installation packages.
  • Some people will want to see everything that comes off our drawing board, and they should use the weekly releases

What does syndication mean?

Also at Wikipedia (here)

I clicked on the install link, and all I got was an “Application not found” or similar error message.

I clicked on the install link, and all I got was an “Application not found” or similar error message. More than likely you don’t have a working Java installation on your computer. Just go to http://www.java.com and click on the yellow “Get it Now” button in the top right. This will update your system to the latest Java. Now go back and click the install link and all should be ok.

I ran BlogBridge once, but now I can’t find the icon to run it again?

I ran BlogBridge once, but now I can’t find the icon to run it again? If you click again on the same URL that loaded BlogBridge the first time, it won’t download it all over again. It will just check that you have the latest version (update it if a new one has come out) and then run it again. Also, see the question about “Desktop Integration.”

[Windows Only] When I am installing BlogBridge, I get a question about “Desktop Integration” - what is that?

[Windows Only] When I am installing BlogBridge, I get a question about “Desktop Integration” - what is that? You should answer “Yes” and request it. it’s a really scary and obscure way of asking you if you want to have a shortcut on your desktop to run BlogBridge again. (Of course it goes without saying that the message is coming from the Java system, and that we are not able to change it.)

[Windows Only] I forgot to ask for desktop integration. Is it too late?

[Windows Only] I forgot to ask for desktop integration. Is it too late? No, there are just a few steps. Run an application called Java Web Start located on your Start Menu. You will see an icon for BlogBridge. Click on it, and then click the Application/Add Shortcuts command and you will get the shortcut to easily run BlogBridge in the future.

Note: Depending on what versions you are running, the Java Web Start program could be in several places. You can avoid the hassle of looking for it picking Run… from the Start menu and asking for “javaws” and pressing Ok, which is another easier way to run it.

What can I do with it?

You can keep up with the avalanche of information coming at you from the web over feeds of all sorts. You can read, sort, filter, subset, display, tag, and even re-publish using BlogBridge and the affiliated BlogBridge Service. Here are some more links to look at:

Where can I get it?

Where can I get it? Depends on exactly what you want! You can run the latest Beta version or get all its source code for you to build and play with. Also we have a weekly (Friday) build that you can run if you want to be on the bleeding edge of the bleeding edge. Check out this page for all the details.

How come are you being so open about your plans?

How come are you being so open about your plans? It’s a new way of doing things! We are appreciate the help we get from the community and want to be as transparent as possible.

What information does the BlogBridge service collect?

You will be asked to supply a working email account, and your name, and a password. With that BlogBridge will periodically send the names of your Channel Guides, which Channels in each one, and what articles are read and unread. In addition some platform and performance statistics are collected. Other than your name and the email you supplied, no personal information of any kind is collected.

What does BlogBridge store or read on my Mac, if anything?

In general the process on Mac is the same as all the other platforms (see xxx) The BlogBridge working directory is called .bb and on your Mac the path is: /Users/ps/.bb/ where ‘ps’ are your initials or user name. This path is also known as ~/.bb/ This is the only directory that BlogBridge reads or writes other than the Java directories of course.

What is a Guide?

A Guide is simply a collection of Feeds which have been grouped together for your convenience. Generally all the Feeds in a Guide are related in one way or another. They might all be comics, or all be about com offers a 100% safe and secure gaming environment as well as innovative casino games online , promotions and a top of the line VIP program. Politics, or be about Nuclear Physics. You are always looking at the Feeds of the current Guide, which is the one who is clicked or selected in the Guide Panel. Many operations apply to a whole Guide, for example, you can delete a Guide, create a Guide, import a Guide, mark all the articles in a Guide as being read, etc.

What is RSS?

Check it out at Wikipedia (here)

How is BlogBridge different from other RSS readers?

BlogBridge does NOT sit on top of your email inbox!

We think that your email inbox should be kept for your most mission-critical messages - work related/action-oriented information or financial information, just to name a few. It becomes counter-productive when our inbox gets cluttered with non-time sensitive information coming from email versions of newsletters, magazines or even email subscriptions to Blogs. That is why we choose a client-based solution.

screens2m.pngBlogBridge is NOT a web destination!

There are many reasons why we felt it more important to have BlogBridge be a desktop application rather than a web-destination. The first reason is that most information which you aggregate with your reader gets consumed when you have the time to do so - and that may be when you are not online.

Another reason for going with a client-based solution is that there are already too many web-places for us to “go to” during the day in order to stay up to date - there is the corporate intranet, our financial institutions, our school bulletin boards, you name it. We did not want to add another destination to your list.

And if your worry is accessing your subscriptions from multiple computers, BlogBridge comes with a service that enables you to work from multiple computers - so that you never have to worry about keeping track of your read/unread or new subscriptions if you access the service from both home and work.

BlogBridge helps you DICOVER the right information!

Blogbridge is not just a reader. You can pre-configure BlogBridge with your keywords, and you can tag feeds along with other BlogBridge users. That combined with some server-based collaborative filtering (think Amazon recommendations) - enables BlogBridge to discover new feeds for you as well as to filter those postings within your feeds in order of importance for you to read.

What are SmartFeeds?

Feeds in BlogBridge are basically a stream of articles, generally from a blog or news source or something like that. These are the feeds that you’ve always known and loved - RSS, Atom and all that.

SmartFeeds are magic! They are created based on rules that you specify. An example should make this clear: What if you could search all blogs at any time for occurences of the word “Microsoft”? Wouldn’t that be useful? And what if that search just ran all the time, and you got the results of the search as a feed? A SmartFeed!

Another example: what if you wanted to see all the information from the feeds in a certain guide that was still unread? Or all the information from 3 BlogStar Feeds that came in today?

You can do all that, and more, with SmartFeeds.

Using SmartFeeds

You create a SmartFeed with the (duh) “Create SmartFeed…” command. The first option is the most important: where do you want to collect articles from? Either you can look within your own sets of subscriptions (”Collect Articles from My Own BlogBridge Feeds”), or you can ask BlogBridge to work with a variety of search engines on the web to build up the result. Let’s look at each in turn.

Collect Articles from my own BlogBridge feeds: This SmartFeed will look through all the articles, feeds and guides that you have subscribed to with BlogBridge and pull together those that match your conditions. Unread, BlogStarz, Date, Text, and Feed name can all be used to define which ones you want. There are all sorts of ways to use this - what I can say in general is that BlogBridge is looking at all the stuff that you are subscribed to, in whatever feed or guide, put it all in a single list for easy browsing.

Now the rest of the SmartFeed flavors follow a very similar pattern. The key difference is that, instead of looking through the stuff you have subscribed to, it looks far and wide, over the whole internet - whether it is pictures on Flickr, or links on del.icio.us, or tags on Technorati (and there are a few more.) It’s really a great way to keep up with what’s going on on the web that you may not even know about.

Can I change the Font Size used to display articles in BlogBridge?

Yes. Control/+ and Control/- (or Command/+ and Command/- on Mac OS X) will grow and shrink the font size. You can also try different themes to see if you like any of them better (see Preferences)

Nothing gets discovered, my subscriptions aren’t saved… Why is that?

The most probable explanation is that BlogBridge cannot contact service application to exchange some information. It sits on this site (www.blogbridge.com) and listens to requests on port 8080. Most of the time you don’t need to know about the ports as your browser always uses default port 80 to connect to the pages, your IM uses its own port, e-mail client talks to the server through its own and etc. That’s why in 99% of cases administrators should leave only few ports open and contactable through their firewalls to make people happy. If you are working for the company with dedicated hardworking network administrator with a good deal of paranoia, you will find that the access to our desired port is blocked.

To verify that you can try clicking on the test link below. Unless the port is blocked you will see the blank page. Otherwise there will be time-out error, or site cannot be contacted, or some other weird error message.

http://www.blogbridge.com:8080/

Now that you are on the short leg with ports hackery, you can contact your network administrator to request immediate assistance in opening the port you can live without any longer. And don’t forget to talk to your boss after that — he is going give you a rise!

Linux Desktop Integration Tips

The fact is that we have many Linux users today and some of them suffer from the same problem — they can’t start BlogBridge application second time without going to our site to click the installation link. No doubts, it’s weird and we have decided to write this small FAQ (or tutorial, whatever) to help you get started faster.

First of all, what’s happening when you click the installation link on our site? Your browser takes this link, analyzes it and finds the application which is capable of handling links of this type in its repository. If browser has no handler registered for the given type of links, it will ask you for a proper action. We all seen the dialog with options to choose proper application or save the contents of the link to file, right?

Now you have a basic understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes. Under Windows or Mac Java applications can be installed in Applications menu and the shortcut link can be placed on your desktop automatically with your permission. It also possible under Linux platform, but under some conditions Java Web Start manager fails to do so. Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact prerequisites for this to happen. If you are lucky and you can’t see any traces of BlogBridge in your Applications menu under Gnome or KDE, you still can get them there, manually. This is how to do that.

Remember I told you two paragraphs above that browser calls some application to deal with resources it doesn’t know how to handle? The application which is called for JNLP file (see installation link) is Java Web Start manager (javaws). Find this application on your computer whether by issuing the direct whereis command in console, like this:

$ whereis javaws

or by using any other file finding capabilities. If you can’t find any then make sure that you have Java Runtime installed. You can get a free copy for yourself at the official Java Web Start site.

Now that you know where the file is create the shortcut on your desktop or new launcher in the Applications menu which is calling the following command:

ABC/javaws http://www.blogbridge.com/install/XYZ/blogbridge.jnlp

where:
ABC — is a path to javaws application, and
XYZ — is one of versions (final, beta, weekly)

You can name the shortcut in any way you like and assign any icon, but I wish to warn you: do not use version number in the shortcut title, just because the application will update itself to a newer versions automatically and soon you can find the discrepancy between what your links says and what you really have. I mean versions of course.

Let us know about your experience with this tutorial. Was it useful? Were there any subtle and unclear obstacles? We also will be very glad if anyone could share his own experience of doing the same with us or let us know about the cure for desktop integration illness under Linux.

Have a good time and take pleasure in reading!

The deleted feed returns after synchronization!

The synchronization feature helps you to be in sync with your two or more work places. It also can play a role of persistent storage (or repository) for your subscriptions, preferences, tags, ratings, etc. It makes utterly no magic and is pretty simple.

We have several actions available: “Only Load”, “Only Save” and “Full Synchronization”. The first two are straight forward and what they do comes from their names. “Full Synchronization” is a conjunction of the first two. The application first loads your subscriptions and then saves the merged list back to the service. Here’s where the confusion creeps into some minds.

Imagine that you had two feeds in your subscription list. You do “Only Save” command and service records them. Now you decide to remove one of them and change the rating of the other. At this moment you see everything as it should be. But what will happen if you will as to “Only Load” your subscriptions from service? This for a while…

Yes, it will load both of feeds. The one, which has been removed, will be restored; the other will be left untouched. Why the first will be restored? Just because it’s not clear, whether it was removed or never existed. To understand it better, imagine that you are at your friend’s computer where the list of subscriptions is empty. You do “Only Load” command to load your favorite reading. The service should tell both of the feeds to match the last saved state from your own computer. And BlogBridge should add both of them.

To help you working with synchronization, we added three modes of synchronization: periodical, automatic and manual. Manual mode is often clear to everyone. When in automatic mode application loads your subscriptions from service during application start and saves them on exit. It allows you to have up-to-date state on the service most of the time. Periodic mode work like the Automatic, but with exception that it makes these operations with specified periods.

I wish to assure that we have several improvements to this in our minds. They are mainly targeted on improving intelligence of processing.

Why is BlogBridge a downloadable application and not purely web based?

Why is BlogBridge a downloadable application (like NetNewsWire and FeedDemon and others) and not a web based (like Bloglines and Findory?)

As the small yet energetic group of people bringing you BlogBridge, clearly we have to make some basic choices, and indeed web vs. app is one of the biggest ones. Truth is we know that we can’t possibly please everyone and that’s ok.

Even our newest BlogBridge topic expert, Richard MacManus, prefers web-based systems. Is it because Richard’s beat is Web 2.0?

I am not going to tell you that having an application is always better than being a web site - and I am not necessarily agreeing with the opposite either.

But I thought it would be worthwhile to explain why we chose the path we chose:

  • Rich user experience: No matter how wonderful your AJAX is, there are still well known and severe limitation to the kind of elegant user interface you can build. Lots of people like GMail, but even more love Outlook.
  • Highly responsive: Achieve a speed and responsiveness, with drag and drop, direct manipulation, elegant controls that are just wonderful.
  • Doesn’t require a web connection: I guess this speaks for itself. I can use BlogBridge without a live internet connection. Yes, always-connected is coming, but it’s been coming for, what, 10 years?
  • Decentralized infrastructure: Maybe a bit parochial, but to run a web based application we would have to provide a scalable infrastructure of servers (like you can be sure Weblines have.) With our approach, you bring your own CPU cycles.
  • I’m a desktop-app guy: Definitely parochial. My background and interest is in rich user interfaces that really leverage the platform and are just nice to look at, so that was my bias when we first started.

No doubt there are some disadvantages, and I know them well: applications need to be downloaded and installed, which is a real barrier for users; if you use more than one computer, you need to install the application on each one.

These are not religious positions, I am not claiming that I’m making a bulletproof argument - I am not trying to start an argument! - just giving a little bit of the background of why BlogBridge is the way it is, that we realize that it’s not for everyone, but that we believe it’s good for our target users.

Who is BlogBridge for?

On this site, and in our ‘literature’ we often talk about the ‘Info Junkie, the person for whom we are designing BlogBridge. Who is that person?

Info-junkie is our cute term to denote “professional users” (that would be our dull term.)  People such as:

  • Marketing Analysts
  • Journalists
  • Sales people
  • Financial Analysts
  • Researchers
  • PR Flacks
  • Writers
  • Scientists

These are people who are required, as part of their job to keep up with lots and lots of information.

Are you one of those? You can’t read it all, but you need to be aware of it all, the classic needle-in-a-haystack problem.

Our users need to know what’s going on in blogs, but also all kinds of other feeds: search result feeds, news feeds, tag feeds, photo feeds, and on and on. They need to be able to organize, sort and filter through all this information.  They couldn’t possibly read it all, but need to keep track of it in case something crucial comes up.

How are you going to make money?

Why is BlogBridge free? Our approach as an Open Source project is to provide useful functionality to the community and in turn benefit from their feedback and help. It’s just the way we do things. We plan to always have a free version.

So, how are you going to make money? We have other products and services for which we do charge. But the basic BlogBridge Desktop aggregator is and will remain free.

What is the BlogBridge Service?

The BlogBridge service provides a (growing) set of network services to the application.

  • Blog Discovery
  • Subscription synchronization - bi-directional
  • BlogBridge Topic Experts library
  • Directory of feeds
  • Automatic software updates

Some of these services require users to have an account and others are provided without an account. Currently the BlogBridge service is free.

So what does BlogBridge do?

For starters we let you subscribe to lots and lots of feeds and make it really easy for you to organize them for quick and easy navigation.

We also let you create SmartFeeds, which are one of the keys to filtering and discovering stuff from all the worlds blogs. A SmartFeed is like a regular Feed, except that you get to say what’s in it. With SmartFeeds you can direct and integrated access to many popular services like Technorati and Flickr as one way to find information from blogs everywhere. You can also cull your existing feeds based on keywords, dates, ratings and other criteria.

And we don’t just rely on machine-aggregation and search techniques to help you discover new information – we actually enlisted the help of a set of BlogBridge Topic Experts who took their time and expertise to pre-populate the BlogBridge application with their recommended feeds in their area of expertise. These are organized as a catalog of best feeds by category.

You use tagging to alert people about information, or to categorize stuff for later retrieval, or perhaps to share tidbits with your team – now you can do it straight from within your RSS reader. You can tag posts publicly using services like del.icio.us or Connotea, or you tag posts and feeds privately using the BlogBridge service.

Actually BlogBridge consists of two pieces: the software you download onto your computers, and services provided by the BB host computers. The Service operates quietly behind the scenes to provide you many of the great capabilities in BlogBridge. For example, BlogBridge will store information about your Feeds and other preferences on the service. That way you can take your world with you no matter where you run BlogBridge. Check here for what else the service does.

If you are a blogger yourself you can create and edit posts based on what you are reading, directly in BlogBridge, and in one click publish them to your blog or blogs! Check out the publishing features!

Oh, and don’t worry about the platform you are on – we work with all of them.

What is BlogBridge?

BlogBridge is a blog, feed and RSS aggregator for “info-junkies.” While there are other aggregators out there, BlogBridge is designed for people who are required to follow lots of feeds, not 10 or 20, but 200 or 400. You can’t read that much, so BlogBridge gives you lots of ways to organize, sort through, skim and discover what’s important to you in this avalanche of information.

Why is BlogBridge Open Source?

We believe that the Open Source model works well for a product such as this. That we would not have been able to make the kind of fast progress that we’ve been able to make any other way. We also, as creative geeks who like to build cool stuff, just like this way of doing things - it’s just more fun!

Some details

The complete BlogBridge application and service source code is released under the “GPL”. The issues relating the Open Source licensing are sometimes subtle. We have done our very best to be true to both the spirit and the letter of the open source practices.

By the way, be aware that we will at some time go to a dual license model, with some kind of commercial licensing terms for certain specific kinds of uses. We will make every attempt to protect the Open Source status of BlogBridge and it’s continuing support.

Troubleshooting tips for Java Web Start Users

As of Release 2.7 we are now offering conventional installers for Windows, Mac and Linux. The Java Web Start (cross-platform) launcher will continue to be offered as well. There are two very common issues people run into when launching BlogBridge via Java Web Start.



“I know I installed and ran BlogBridge, but I just can’t find it to run it again!”

This is the most common point of confusion. You ran it once, and now you can’t figure out how to run it again. You probably looked for an icon on your desktop and can’t find out, and (if you are on Windows) looked for something on your Start menu, and couldn’t find anything, right. Not to worry.

Solution #1: You can just go back to the same link you used the first time (somewhere in the Download area of this site) and click it again. BlogBridge will not download again, it will just run.

Solution #2: This will take a few more steps, but you might like it better. Run the “Java Web Start” Application. See the BlogBridge icon in the Java Web Start Application Manager? Select that icon and choose the Application menu, “Create Desktop Application” command. This will create an icon on your desktop that you can use from now on to run BlogBridge.

Notes: On Windows, you can probably find the Java Web Start Application under your Start menu, All Programs. Different models of Windows computers might have it in slightly different locations. On Mac, you can probably find the Java Web Start application under Applications/Java/Java Web Start.

“In the download instructions, when I click Open BlogBridge, all I get is a message on my system asking me what application I want to use to open this application.”



You see this message either when you don’t have Java installed or your Java is out of date. This is really easy to correct.

Go to Java.com (http://www.java.com) and click “Download Now!.” Java is free and easy to install and will allow BlogBridge and many other wonderful applications to run.

Relevant FAQs:

 

BlogBridge System Requirements

Most users need not be concerned about this, however if you are interested, BlogBridge supports and requires the following: 

  • Java: 1.4.2 or later
  • Macintosh: OS X 10.3 or later
  • Windows: XP
  • Linux:

Note: BlogBridge may run on other platforms (e.g. Windows 2000 or Windows ME) but it hasn’t been tested there by us.

I have two different computers. How do I keep BlogBridge in sync between the two?

BlogBridge has a powerful synch feature just for that purpose. Here is how you set it up and use it.

First of all, when you first set up BlogBridge you had a chance to create a “BlogBridge Service Account.” If you didn’t do it then, you can still do it. Just go to Tools/BlogBridge Service…. You can specify your info on the Register tab. Check your email for the activation email, which you have to acknowledge. 

Once you are activated, go to the same dialog box again and decide if you want to manually sync or set up a sync schedule. When BlogBridge synchs, your feeds and other preferences are stored on our service. Then go to the other computer, and follow the same procedure. From that point on, your context is kept updated each time you sync.

How do I uninstall BlogBridge?

First of all, we are sad to hear that you want to uninstall (remove) BlogBridge from your system. But fear not, it is totally possible to uninstall it (of course!)

If you are on Windows, and installed BlogBridge with the normal Windows installer, then simply go to “Add/Remove Programs” and you will find the BlogBridge on the list. Uninstall it in the usual way.

If you are on Macintosh, and installed BlogBridge using the Mac OS X installer, then locate the BlogBridge program icon on your desktop, or wherever you moved it to. Simply drop it into the trash,

If you installed BlogBridge with the cross-platform “Java Web Start” installer, then locate the Java Web Start “console” application. Locate BlogBridge in the list of applications and select it. In the Application menu, click on the Remove Application button.

How does one migrate all the accumulated guides and data to the weekly release cycle?

Users who are using the Weekly release and want to switch to the Stable release or vice versa will see that each release is completely separate on their computers. So the collection of Guides and Feeds in one will not automatically appear in the other.

The easiest way to synchronize them is with the BlogBridge Service. Here’s what you do:

  1. In BlogBridge where you have the Guides and Feeds set up as you want them, do a Synchronize Now command (on the Tools menu.)
  2. Exit BlogBridge and run the other release of BlogBridge. Again go to the Tools menu, but this time choose “BlogBridge Service” to bring up the dialog box.
  3. In the dialog box, next to the “Synchronize Now” button you will see a “More…” button. Click on that button and choose “Only Load”. This will copy your complete context into BlogBridge.

Note: Naturally you can use this same technique to keep BlogBridge in sync between two different computers.

Note: You need to have an activated BlogBridge service account in order to be able to Synchronize. Luckily, so far, this account is free :)

How do I subscribe to a reading list?

Whenever you see this icon Readinglist on the BlogBridge site, you know you are looking at a reading list. It is really easy to use it:

  • Right Click on the icon and copy the link to the clipboard.
  • In BlogBridge, select the Guide where you’d like to include the Reading List
  • Right click and choose “Properties…” from the popup menu
  • Choose the “Reading Lists” tab
  • Click on the little plus sign and paste the link
  • Click ok twice, to confirm

The Guide will automatically be populated with all the feeds that the reading list currently includes. When the author of the reading list makes a change, you will see it automatically.

What is a BlogBridge Reading List, and how do I use it?

I’ve written bits and pieces about Reading Lists over the last 2 months. Here in a single FAQ I want to give you a single summary of what Reading Lists are and how to use them in BlogBridge.

What is a Reading List?



A Reading List is:

a collection of Feeds, usually about a single topic, which someone has put together for the benefit of others

For example, our BlogBridge Topic Experts have created reading lists about Journalism (thanks Dan Gilmor,) Library Blogs (thanks Jenny Levine) and so on. We have about a dozen BlogBridge Topic Experts, but there are lots and lots of other Reading Lists out there. In a future post I will give a little tour of where else to find them.

Reading Lists are a really cool way to share knowledge. Think of the authors of Reading Lists as “Feed Jockeys” - they spin Feeds for others to enjoy.

How do I create a Reading List?

Picture 3-8

With BlogBridge anyone can create a Reading List: If you have a set of feeds on some topic or another that you want to make available to a friend or to the whole world, you can do that, very simply with BlogBridge.

All you have to do is to create a Guide that contains the Feeds that you want to include, and with a single checkbox, publish it as a Reading List. Once BlogBridge syncs with the (free) BlogBridge service, your reading list is assigned a hyperlink that only you know. You can decide to just give it to your Mom or put it up for the whole world to see. It’s up to you.

And the beauty is, you change the Feeds in the published guide, and next time you sync, the Reading List that is out there is automatically updated for anyone who is using it. It’s important to note that publish your Reading List using BlogBridge does not require anyone to use BlogBridge to use it. We follow the OPML standard which should assure interoperability.

How do I follow (subscribe to) a Reading List?

Not everyone is (or thinks they are) an expert. You may know someone who’s published a Reading List (one of our experts or anyone else who might have one.) Actually it doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as you have the hyperlink (a.k.a. URL).

With that you can just add the Reading List, dynamically, to a Guide. A Guide is a lot like a folder where you can keep Feeds. But in addition you can tell the Guide to incorporate all the feeds mentioned in someone’s Reading List. You supply the Reading Lists hyperlink and from then on the Guide will keep itself in sync with the Reading List. So if your friend or your friendly expert decides to add one or remove another Feed from the list, no problem, you see the changes. Notice the little “antenna” next to the name of the Feed? That tells me that I didn’t put it there manually, it was put there by a Reading List.

This screenshot shows me subscribing to a Reading List provided by the Web 2.0 Workgroup. My Guide is populated with exactly those Feeds, and as folks join or leave the Workgroup, my Guide will follow. Very nice!

Picture 1-26

Some more details

A Reading List, like a web page or a feed, is known by its hyperlink. In the case of Reading Lists the format is OPML, just as web pages and feeds use HTML and RSS, respectively. So while of course we are proud of our Reading List support, there are other tools out there, and there will be more, that can help you either publish or subscribe to a Reading List, and BlogBridge should work fine with them.

That’s all

As you can see, with BlogBridge it’s very easy to create your own Reading Lists. In fact since we launched the feature about a week ago, there are already over 50 reading lists created. Currently they are private but we are working on coming up with something to help with that too :) Stay tuned.

Caveats

Reading Lists are currently available in the “Weekly Release“, 2.12. It is quite usable. Sometime during the first 2 weeks of February 2006 (next week in other words) we will release a new “Stable Release”, probably called 2.13, which will include all this and more.

How does BlogBridge use OPML?

Picture 3-11

OPML stands for Outline Processing Markup Language, a format designed by Dave Winer which has become the de-facto standard within aggregators to exchange subscription list. You can see a snippet of OPML to the left.

Actually OPML can be used for a lot more then exchanging subscription lists.  BlogBridge uses OPML extensively, although users don’t need to know or care about it.

In BlogBridge we use OPML in the following ways:

  • Import and Export between different versions of BlogBridge
  • Import and Export with other aggregators
  • Publishing Reading Lists
  • Subscribing to Reading Lists
  • Much of the communication formats between BlogBridge and the Blog Bridge service

Some Screencasts from a couple of our users

This is pretty great. Two of our favorite users, Kathleen Gilroy and D’Arcy Norman, both also topic experts, each have created a screencast showing off how they use BlogBridge as part of their work.

Kathleen Gilroy heads up the Otter Group. Her screencast covers aggregation, feed management and sharing. In this context she shows some really interesting ways to use BlogBridge together with our Feed Library software. She particularly illustrates the how to use them together, building collections in one and subscribing to them in the other. Here’s a link to her post and Screencast.

D’Arcy Norman is a well known blogger focusing on Learning related matters. In real life he’s an educational technology developer at the Learning & Learning Centre at the University of Calgary. D’Arcy is a heavy reader of blogs and feeds. His screencast is really interesting in illustrating how he gets a ton of productivity from some of the power features of BlogBridge. Here’s a link to his post and Screencast.

It’s really great for us when our users care enough to record and publish their experiences with our products. We are also showcasing them on our Screencasts pages. Thanks!

H0bbel, and others

As you can imagine I have a phalanx of SmartFeeds scouring the net for anyone talking, good or bad, about BlogBridge. I post comments to threads and otherwise enjoy seeing where we are having an impact. Here are just a few excerpts from recent months:

From h0bbel’s web site, from a post called “How did I Miss Netvibes?”

“[snip...] I’m not ready to get rid of BlogBridge though, which still is my favorite Java application of all time (besides Gallery Remote of course), and to be honest BlogBridge performance has never been better than the v4.4 Weekly Build I’m currently running. On my Laptop, running Microsoft Vista Business, BlogBridge really performs well and I still love the centralized configuration/feed settings that I’ve praised before.[snip...]“

Des Walsh from Bussiness and Blogging, from a post called “RSS Readers: NewsGator and BlogBridge”

“[snip...] Another thing I like about BlogBridge is that they provide various lists of leading blogs to help set up a “guide” immediately. I still haven’t figured out how to import/export OPML files with BlogBridge and I am concerned to be able to do that. The online manual could be more immediately helpful on that.[snip...]

On the MarcNext blog, from a post called: “De Slimmer feedreader is in aantocht”:

“[snip...]Nu ben ik wat BlogBridge betreft erg gehecht aan mijn smartfeeds, dus om nu gelijk over te stappen naar bijvoorbeeld Feedeye vind ik wat te snel. Ik hoop daarom dat dergelijke functionaliteit straks in de meeste readers wordt ingebakken. Het zou het leven van een RSS-lezer een stuk aangenamer maken.[snip..]“

Oh, you don’t read Dutch??? Sorry :)

And, from D’Arcy Norman’s blog, from a post called “Heading back to BlogBridge”:

“[snip...]

I tried. I really did. I wanted to give Google Reader a full week to see how well it works as a full-time feed aggregator.

I couldn’t do it.

[snip...]

So, I’m back to BlogBridge.  Ahhhh… that’s better. There’s no place like home…

[snip...]“

What’s the difference between a web site and a blog?

This is a question I hear all the time. I thought I’d write a bit of an introduction to the topic. Check out “The difference between a web site and a blog” on Squidoo.

Can I use BlogBridge to automatically re-publish to my personal blog?

Question: “I have to filter and consolidate RSS feeds with some keywords or related to particular topic from multiple sites and display them on my personal blog.Does blogbridge help me in achieving the same?”

Response: We have found that automatically using a filter to republish feeds to a personal blog almost never produces the desired results, because invariably you find some incorrect (false positive) item on your personal blog.

So instead we have a more powerful feature which is to allow you to publish any item you see in any blog onto your personal blog, completely, or edited, or with additional editorial comments. This can be done with one or multiple items and blogs.

Here is a high level overview of BlogBridge’s “Publish To Blog” feature.

Great piece about News Aggregation and Re-Publishing

Robin Good has a great new article on his blog about a topic near and dear to our heart: “News Aggregation and News Mastering.” As usual with his writing, there’s a nice step by step exposition of a topic that can quickly get confusing for beginners.

I believe Robin himself originally coined the term newsmastering:

What Is NewsMastering?

Newsmastering is the process by which a human being identifies, aggregates, hand-picks, edits and republishes a highly-focused, thematic news via RSS. Newsmastering allows dedicated news editors (newsmasters) to remix and contextualize the existing tsunami of breaking news for very specific audiences in one thousand and more ways.” (from What Is Newsmastering And What Are Newsradars?)

From there, Robin goes step by step through the procedure and process that you can use to be a newsmaster, why you might do it and how. You really should read the whole article. Along the way there’s also a very nice plug for BlogBridge:

“Blogbridge is a great cross-platform open-source RSS feed reader, aggregator and publisher. It can hook up directly to your existing blog publishing system to create a seamless bridge between your news production and your more traditional site publishing chores. BlogBridge has a cool interface, many valuable features and great support.” (from RSS News Aggregation and Re-Publishing for beginners)

BlogBridge as a sales tool - “Highly Recommended!”

Mike Jones of Sales 2.0 had this to say about BlogBridge recently:

“I’m following a couple of hundred different subjects and companies and it’s a great way to find out what’s going in the market place to help make decisions and to discover key information in time to react or make a decision.” (from Sales 2.0)

Enterprise

How can BlogBridge help my business?

BlogBridge and BlogBridge Library are great tools to use to keep your teams and employees informed and sharing a common knowledge base—whatever operating systems they use, wherever they are. Track trends news competitors and prices that affect your operations. If you don’t have the time or resources to build your own collections of relevant feeds, BlogBridge can build one for you.

Feed Library

What are the real world scenarios for Feed Library?

Feed Library is a software product that we announced on June 8th. 

“Feed Library creates a flexible web based structure to showcase Feeds, Reading Lists and Podcasts to employees in your company, or members of your organization. It will be the ’store’ where users can browse and search for recommendations of content to read with their Aggregators. And, here’s the important point: these are recommendations by people in your organization for people in your organization.” (from BlogBridge Library announcement)

We envision two major scenarios for FL, internal (inside the firewall) and public (outside the firewall.) The basic mission for FL remains the same, but each scenario has some specific characteristics to consider.

Scenario 1: A company or organization who wants to get their users into taking advantage of the world of blog and feed content out there. It would like to offer them a nicely organized set of feeds and reading lists so they don’t have to chase around to find the good stuff. Typically this would be inside the firewall because the customer considers this information confidential.

Scenario 2: The organization wants to provide such a directory or library publicly, for example a non profit, a newspaper, a small business. Again they would be interested if they needed a way to show off a fairly large set of feeds, reading lists and podcasts in a nicely searchable and browsable web site (or section of their web site.)

Note: We provide just the software to do this, the customer would typically be providing the content. We will run on just about any server that can host a web site.

What are the major features of BlogBridge’s Feed Library?

BlogBridge’s Feed Library (BBL) is a software product that we announced on June 8th. 

“BlogBridge’s Feed Library (BBL) creates a flexible web based structure to showcase Feeds, Reading Lists and Podcasts to employees in your company, or members of your organization. It will be the ’store’ where users can browse and search for recommendations of content to read with their Aggregators. And, here’s the important point: these are recommendations by people in your organization for people in your organization.” (from BlogBridge’s Feed Library announcement)

Let’s take a look at the major features of BBL. As you can see there are many interesting capabilities, all of which will be available in the first release. And we have even more coolness in the plan.

  • Categories and subcategories - All the feeds, reading lists and podcasts are organized in a fully customizable multi-level category structure. Each category can have a distinct owner to whom control has been delegated by the librarian.
  • Cross Listing - As not everything wants to fit in a hierarchy, any category can be cross listed elsewhere in the library in one or more other categories.
  • Built in announcements blog with rss feed - As we hope a customer’s Feed Library will be an active and dynamic place, we have provided a blog where the librarians can post announcements and other information for the visitors.
  • All categories and subcategories available as OPML Reading Lists - OPML is generated dynamically to allow any capable aggregator to subscribe to all the feeds in a certain category and stay up to date with any changes made there by the librarian.
  • Comprehensive user management - User profiles contain their name, email, photo and access level. Access levels are: “Administrator”, “Librarian”, “Author” and “Reader”
  • Bulk import of account info for enterprise integration - BBL allows the administrator to bulk add a large number of accounts to facilitate deployment inside organizations.
  • Organizations - Each user can be the member of some organization. Organizations are defined by the librarians.
  • Recommendations - The librarian can assign some folder to contain recommended feeds for each organization. When a user logs in, they are shown whatever recommendations exist for them.
  • Top 10 and Top 100 List - BBL automatically monitors the number of users looking at any feed and dynamically compute a Top 10 and Top 100 list, each of which is available as an OPML Reading List.
  • Tree and List display of categories - Librarians can choose to display the contents of a category in either a tree or list display.
  • Ajax animation and asynchronous display of user interface - This is just coool!
  • And those are just the major features :)

How does Feed Library integrate with BlogBridge?

First of all, BlogBridge:Library (BBL) is fully independent of BlogBridge. It will work for anyone, no matter what aggregator they use, or even if they don’t use an aggregator at all.

Period.

BlogBridge can use a private instance of BBL

In the BlogBridge aggregator, there are several features that provide ’suggestions’ for Feeds to subscribe to, Reading Lists to subscribe to, and Feeds to put in a new Guide. In each case, BlogBridge can be set up to use your own customized (organizational) instance of BlogBridge:Library, and so you get to decide what suggestions are offered to your users: they will be the ones in your BlogBridge:Library.

Using BlogBridge to manage BBL

Of course you can manage BBL from it’s web based interface. But if you are a BlogBridge user, you can publish a Guide as a Reading List, and in turn use that Reading List to populate a folder in BBL. The effect of this is that you can simply drag and drop your feeds to manage the Guide, and in turn the folder in BBL. A lot simpler.

How is BlogBridge’s Feed Library licensed? What does it cost?

BlogBridge’s Feed Library (BBL) is a software product that we announced on June 8th.

“BlogBridge’s Feed Library (BBL) creates a flexible web based structure to showcase Feeds, Reading Lists and Podcasts to employees in your company, or members of your organization. It will be the ’store’ where users can browse and search for recommendations of content to read with their Aggregators. And, here’s the important point: these are recommendations by people in your organization for people in your organization.” (from BlogBridge Feed Library announcement)

At this moment we have about a dozen trials going on with people all over the world. It looks like we are getting a lot of interest from people in academia and other non-profit organizations, and they tend to have roles in library-like organizations. Surprise surprise :)

By the way, if you are interested in playing with Feed Library, please send us an email requesting a trial. Or you can just check out the
Feed Library “Playpen” which is a free for al where anyone can be a librarian and add content. Every night though, we reset it back to an initial state.

How does BlogBridge:Library integrate with BlogBridge

First of all, BlogBridge:Library (BBL) is fully independent of BlogBridge. It will work for anyone, no matter what aggregator they use, or even if they don’t use an aggregator at all.

Period.

BlogBridge can use a private instance of BBL

In the BlogBridge aggregator, there are several features that provide ’suggestions’ for Feeds to subscribe to, Reading Lists to subscribe to, and Feeds to put in a new Guide. In each case, BlogBridge can be set up to use your own customized (organizational) instance of BlogBridge:Library, and so you get to decide what suggestions are offered to your users: they will be the ones in your BlogBridge:Library.

Using BlogBridge to manage BBL

Of course you can manage BBL from it’s web based interface. But if you are a BlogBridge user, you can publish a Guide as a Reading List, and in turn use that Reading List to populate a folder in BBL. The effect of this is that you can simply drag and drop your feeds to manage the Guide, and in turn the folder in BBL. A lot simpler.

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Development

BlogBridge high level architecture: The best of both worlds

BlogBridge has a hybrid architecture. By that I mean, that the BlogBridge ’system’ consists of a combination of a rich client and a service. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, because I think, to the techies out there, it’s kind of interesting.

If you aren’t a techie, then “you are getting verrry sleeeeeepy… ZZzzzzz”

BlogBridge users know that it is an application which runs on your computer, giving you a pleasant and usable window where you can read feeds, but importantly also discover new information that you care about, and manage it in a productive way. So, like Outlook or Firefox, it’s an application.

In addition, you might have heard about the BlogBridge Service which we strongly  encourage you to sign up for (it’s free by the way.) If you do, BlogBridge will conveniently save your context or state ‘in the cloud’ so that you have your context no matter what computer you are using.

But what you may not know is that the BlogBridge service, behind the scenes, actually is responsible for several other key capabilities of the app.

For example, when you enter a URL that it doesn’t know, it’s the service that tries to discover the RSS feed behind the URL, caching the result, so that the next user that asks about that URL can get the answer right away.

Another example is that the service does the scoring of feeds for you providing the baseline number of BlogStarz that are displayed in the application. And, it’s the service that is responsible for rolling up all users’ ratings (so called Gold BlogStarz) to provide the collaborative filtering capabilities of BlogBridge.

Architecturally, the BlogBridge service is accessed through an XML-RPC API, with calls for each of the various services it provides. Some of the services require that the user have a BlogBridge account, and some don’t.

All in all it’s a very convenient model, which allows us to both provide the best user experience via a rich client application, and still have the advantages of having a presence “in the cloud” at all times to offload some of the heavy lifting to.

Strategically, there are advantages too. As the feed reader space is rather (ahem) busy, we set the scene for bringing some of our unique capabilities to other feed readers in the future.

How do I translate BlogBridge?

General Information

Currently BlogBridge comes in two languages that we personally maintain: English and Russian. However, we encourage and support everyone who wishes to contribute the translation in any other language. By doing so, you help your fellow citizens not knowing any of the two standard languages to enjoy our product.

You can become a maintainer of the translation and provide the updates as we add new features, or you can provide only up-to-date version and let someone else update it later. Both ways hold immense value to us and our users, so don’t worry if you don’t have time for continued support. Help us by doing that you really can and enjoy what you do!

What is translatable?

  • every message (except new functions in weekly builds)
  • command names
  • help screens
  • tool tips
  • everything else

How to translate?

We are constantly looking for ways to make the translation of the application easier and accessible. This document describes an improved and simplified way of translation compared to what it was before, requiring to download and install BlogBridge from the source code.

With the powerful plug-in architecture you now can package a translation as an external plug-in package and attach it to the application to get the language you want. Yes, it’s that easy.

Now…

How to create a translation?

  1. Find blogbridge.jar that belongs to the BlogBridge application on your disk
  2. Copy blogbridge.jar to blogbridge.zip and extract these two files:
    • Action.properties — commands, help strings, tool-tips
    • Strings.properties — dialog boxes, alerts, other text messages
  3. Now download and start Attesoro (http://attesoro.org/download.html) translation tool.
  4. Open the Action.properties file you extracted in the step 2 with Attesoro and create a new locale with Edit / Locale / New… (choose your language and the country)
  5. Select it in the tree in the top-left corner of the screen. You can see that all keys in the list below became blue, which means that none of them have translation for the selected language / locale. Your goal now is to walk through as many “.label”, “.helptext” and “.tooltip” keys as you can / wish and provide the translation to the messages they show in English.
  6. After you finished with Actions, save the results and continue with Strings.properties. The keys in that bundle have no suffixes and you can translate as many of them as you like.

Remember:

  • In command labels, you can use ampersand (&) to indicate a character to underline
  • If you need a “…” character, use “\u2026″ instead of three periods
  • Note that sometimes it isn’t clear how a message should be translated and what the correct tense is. In this case you’d better find where it’s shown in the application and see how it would sound naturally.
  • Keep in mind that some terms “feed”, “reading list”, “guide” may need no translation. If your language has no equivalents, it’s better to leave the original spelling for them.

When you save your work in Attesoro, it creates new files with the same name, but with language suffixes (like Actions_ru.properties for Russian). These are the files you will need to distribute.

How to see the results?

So you have your translations in two files “Action_xx_yy.properties” and “Strings_xx_yy.properties”. Now you can check the results in BlogBridge. For this:

  1. Find the working folder of BlogBridge (/.bb/final or /.bb/weekly depending on the version you use)
  2. Create “mytranslation” under the “plugins” folder there.
  3. Copy your translation files inside the new folder.
  4. Create the “package.xml” with the following contents:
    <package name="<language> Translation"
        description="Translates BlogBridge into <language>"
        version="1.0"
        author="<your name>"
        email="<your address>">
    
        <actions bundle="Action_xx_yy"
            type="Commands in <language>"/>
        <strings bundle="Strings_xx_yy"
            type="Text messages in <language>"/>
    </package>
    

    Note: You need to replace <language>, <your name>, <your address> and bundle names with your specific values.

  5. Now you can start BlogBridge, open the Plug-ins manager, tick your plug-in package and restart to make it active.
  6. Upon restart, you should see the changes in text messages.

Note: Once you enabled the plug-in, you need to restart BlogBridge only once every time you change something in the translation files to let the application grab the changes.

What and where to send?

At this stage you have two translation files, the package.xml file and complete satisfaction with the results. Now how to prepare the package for distribution:

  1. Check that package.xml has all info about you and the package.
  2. Check the spelling of your translation. I know, I know, but I still find many errors in my spelling there in the files.
  3. Create a ZIP archive with your translation. There should be just three files, no folders, no other stuff. It’s the easiest way to make it, believe me.
  4. Try your new package by placing it in the “plugins” folder. Don’t forget to move the “mytranslation” folder out of the “plugins” to let BB find the right package.

Are you satisfied with the results? Send this ZIP package to us for review and publication!

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