Websites/ Implementation/RSS

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Note: This page refers to the relaunch of the site completed in August 2009 and is available for reference.

What we want to do

Bug 493099: Hook up news feeds on new home page.

We want a feed parser that

  • pulls latest feed info from for front page
  • pulls latest feed info from news.rdf (for now) for front page
  • optionally: creates mash ups of multiple feeds on sub-pages (e.g. Our causes > Education)

How to do it has a lot of visitors, so we probably want to cache feed items for some time to a) be nice to the feed provider and b) get better performance.

We probably want a database-based cache over a file-based cache, because it gives faster results.

TTL of the cached items can be relatively high (higher on the sub-pages than on the front page), because we offer the feeds to open up an additional window into the community and not to be a direct, always-up-to-date information resource.


Overall ideas:

  • Use a cron-job to generate static html with the news items
  • Pull in the items from a db-based cache, refresh the cache occasionally

There are several different options (subject to evaluation).

Write a parser from scratch

  • + maybe better performance
  • + would hopefully be exactly what we want
  • - more development time
  • - not as well tested as other solutions

Zend Framework

  • New BSD license
  • very modular and flexible
  • PHP5 only (read: makes use of new OOP features, which is good)
  • well maintained, active development
  • DB abstraction layer, cache handling
  • some known issues, API a bit counter-intuitive in places
  • probably not as heavily tested as other solutions (because relatively new)
  • generally long turnaround time (bug filed to fix released)


  • XML_Feed_Parser
    • LGPL license
    • No maintainer
    • PHP license
    • No active development (last release 06)


  • BSD license
  • CURL extension required (need to check with reed, if it is enabled)
  • Caching out of the box (flat file only right now, but could be overloaded with own DB-class)
  • Meshing of multiple feeds out of the box
  • Problems with some feeds, but workarounds exist
  • Nice API
  • Goodies such as feed auto-discovery (feels a lot like Firefox ;)
  • Performance seems to be good with caching, but no idea, if it scales up nicely.

Magpie RSS

  • GPL license
  • No active development (last release 05)

PHP Universal Feed Parser

  • GPL license
  • seems to be a one-man effort
  • uses OOP methodology