Last update: 7/10/2011; 4:58:52 PM.

River2 is a river of news

What is River2? permalink

River2 is an app that runs in the OPML Editor that implements a River of News aggregator.

It's a feed reader, podcatcher, photo aggregator with reading lists and real-time feed support.

There's a mail list for support or you can leave a question in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Dave Winer, Scripting News

How to install permalink

See the howto about installing River2.

After installing permalink

Here's what just happened.

1. As the River2 tool installed, it's subscribing to a default list of feeds.

2. You can always see what it's doing on the Log page. Note that link points to the server running inside the OPML Editor app, on your machine.)

3. To begin, we subscribe to a list of starter feeds, designed to give you an idea of how the river works. You can keep them, or add to them, or delete them by visiting the Feeds page.

4. It may take a few minutes before one of the feeds has a new item. Until then the home page, where all the new items are displayed, will be empty. I chose these feeds to start with because they are so active. It shouldn't be more than a few minutes before a new item appears.

5. While you're waiting, you might want to take a moment and bookmark the home page. I've put it in the browser's toolbar so it's always just a click away.

6. Every ten minutes River2 will do another scan. When it finishes the scan it builds the static river, and saves it in a place where others, who don't have the River2 software, can read it.

Basic features permalink

The menu at the top of each page allows you to navigate through the functionality of the app.

Home: Shows the news items in reverse-chronologic order. This is the famous river of news.

Feeds: See what you're subscribed to and add new feeds and reading lists.

Prefs: Edit the River2 preferences.

Log: Lists the last 100 events, each time River2 does a scan, or you subscribe to a new feed, or it renews a subscription with the cloud. Also look here for reports of errors.

Podcasts: Lists all the podcasts that have been encountered and/or downloaded into your Podcasts folder.

Docs: Links to this page. :-)

Scan: Does an immediate scan.

Note: The links in this section point to pages on your local machine, inside the OPML Editor app.

What is a River Of News style aggregator? permalink

It's an application that reads feeds you've subscribed to and presents only the new items, newest first. As you scroll down you go back in time, to older items.

More about River of News here.

How reading lists work permalink

A reading list is an OPML file, exactly like one you'd use to import or export your subscription list, with one important difference. You subscribe to it instead of importing it. This means that the author of the reading list can change the feeds in the list and your River2 aggregator will then subscribe to the new feeds, or unsubscribe from the feeds that have been removed.

Here's an example of a reading list I maintain with a few good podcasts that I listen to regularly.

You subscribe to a reading list exactly as you would subscribe to a feed. Go to the Feeds page, paste the address of the reading list into the text box at the top of the page and click the Submit button.

How rssCloud works permalink

A picture named rivernews.jpgIn 2001 we added a feature to RSS that allowed realtime updates of feeds. This feature was supported in the Radio 8.0 aggregator, so when a Radio weblog updated all users who were on net-accessible computers (i.e. not behind a firewall or NAT) would receive the update immediately, without waiting for the next hourly scan.

River2 supports this protocol, which is known as rssCloud. This means, if you're using a net-accessible computer, you can have instant updates for feeds that are cloud-enabled. We believe that a fair number of feeds will have this feature soon. Having an aggregator that can do something with them helps bootstrap the process.

To enable the feature, go to Prefs and click the box labeled: Check this box to request rssCloud notification for cloud-enabled feeds.

If you're not sure if your computer is net-accessible: 1. Bring the OPML Editor to the front. 2. Choose Am I net-accessible? from the River2 sub-menu of the Tools menu. 3. A dialog will appear that says whether or not one of my servers was able to connect to your computer over the net. It's not an absolutely foolproof test, but it's pretty good.

See the security prefs section below to learn how to protect your River2 with a password, which is very important if you're running on a net-accessible computer.

Note: You can run the OPML Editor on a server, and access it through a web browser. I wrote a tutorial called EC2 for Poets that walks you through installation of a net-accessible OPML server in Amazon's cloud.

Using River2 as a podcatcher permalink

Subscribing to a feed that contains podcasts is done the same way you'd subscribe to any feed. Go to the Feeds page, paste the address of the podcast feed into the text box at the top of the page and click the Submit button.

During a scan, when River2 detects a podcast, it adds it to a queue, and then in a separate thread, downloads podcasts in the order they came in, one at a time. You can see all the podcasts, in reverse-chronologic order, on the Podcasts page. Once a podcast has been downloaded, its icon changes from a music player to a folder. When you click on the folder, the Finder or Explorer comes to the front and the folder containing the podcast opens. You can then copy it to your music player or play it on your desktop or laptop computer. It's especially useful on netbooks.

Podcast feeds can be cloud-enabled, which would allow realtime distribution of audio and video programming. And podcasts can be part of reading lists.

The default folder is named Podcatcher and is on your desktop. You can change that on the Prefs page.

You an also set a maximum number of megabytes for the Podcatcher folder. When a download causes the folder to exceed the set limit, files are deleted, oldest-first. The default for this pref is 1000 megabytes.

OPML import/export permalink

Even though River2 supports OPML reading lists, you still need to be able to import and export subscription lists in OPML format.

To import: 1. Download the OPML file to a local disk. 2. Bring the OPML Editor to the front. 3. Choose Import OPML from the River2 sub-menu of the Tools menu. 4. Choose the file, click OK.

To export: River2 automatically exports your subscription list every time it does a scan. It is saved into the River2 sub-folder of the folder containing the OPML application. It's called river2Subscriptions.opml.

History permalink

I wrote my first aggregator in 1999, ten years ago.

Until June 2009, that was the aggregator that shipped for the OPML Editor, a tool named newsRiver.root. In June I started work on a fresh new aggregator called River2. The goal was to incorporate all that we had learned about RSS aggregation in the last ten years, and combine it with several technologies that had gotten established since we began.

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Last udpate: 7/10/2011; 4:58:52 PM.