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RSS Feed Merging Added

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The "Splices" function of FeedBlitz has been extended in two new ways, giving you yet more choices as to how to integrate external content into your feed.

RSS Feed Merge

As well as our "off the shelf" integration of Twitter, Disqus, Backlinks, YouTube and a dozen or so other services, we now have an RSS feed option. Enter the RSS feed's URL into the box and save; that RSS feed will now be merged into your feed.

You can merge as many feeds as you like (a new blank row will appear each time you save). We're not trying to replicate the advanced capabilities of services like Yahoo Pipes or MySyndicaat, but we do believe that for those people who want to simply merge multiple feeds into one they should be able to do that from their core RSS service.

For example, a teacher can now splice in both their school news and their school district's news into their classroom blog's feed, ensuring that parents get all they need to know about what might be affecting their child's education. Or a realtor can splice in tips for sellers from a staging blog along with their own local market insights from their own site. You can build a richer experience for your RSS readers by choosing the right content to merge in.

New Splice Merging Option

When we launched last week, splices were only available as daily summaries, with either just the titles in a list, or both titles and the content, all placed together in a single "wrap up" feed entry. To accommodate RSS feed merging, we've added a new option, "Merge Posts into Main Feed" - which places splices into the feed (whether from RSS or any of the other services we support) based on the post's timestamp.

This capability and all our splices are at RSS - Splices at http://www.feedblitz.com/.

What this means for FeedBlitz Email Publishers

Since FeedBlitz email is RSS based, for bloggers and new media companies that wish to bring multiple feeds into a single newsletter, now you can. Blitz your main feed and then add the feeds you want to merge in as splices. Then update your newsletter (Newsletters - Settings - Content Settings - The Basics) and you're done.

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Update Your RSS Readers - Leaving FeedBurner

Friday, March 27, 2009

We tied the new FeedBlitz RSS service into the existing FeedBurner feed to simplify the initial announcement of our FeedBurner alternative. Now it's time to finish the play and move the feed over for good.

All FeedBlitz email readers have already been moved over to the new feed; for everyone else we've just deleted the old feed at FeedBurner which will be gone in 30 days. Please update your aggregators to poll http://feeds.feedblitz.com/feedblitz so you can stay in the loop!

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FeedBlitz RSS: URL Parameters

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We've built FeedBlitz RSS to give publishers of all calibers choice and flexibility in how their feeds work. The RSS settings page manages almost all of these, but - aha!- there are ways for slightly more advanced users to further modify what FeedBlitz does by adding parameters into the feed URL.

So, if you have selected "Browser Friendly" (which is the default), you won't see the RSS feed in your browser. But you can force FeedBlitz to give it to you anyway by appending "&x=1" to the URL, like this:
Similarly, if you have disabled browser friendly, you can force FeedBlitz to give it to you anyway by setting the 'x' parameter to be zero, as in: http://feeds.feedblitz.com/feedblitz&x=0

Don't forget that the mobile version is always at http://m.feedblitz.com/feedblitz (or whatever your feed is), and it always serves the mobile version no matter what parameters you send it.

You can also limit the posts the feed shows by telling FeedBlitz only to show posts that include certain tags (the "inc" parameter), or exclude posts with certain tags (the "exc" parameter). The categories (or tags or labels) should be comma separated and HTTP encoded.

Using the FeedBlitz feed as an example, you can do this:


and you'll get all the posts (if any) that are tagged wither "AWS" or "EMail Marketing" presented in XML (feed) format. Similarly, you can exclude posts you don't want, like this:


This example also forces the browser-friendly version by also adding the "x=0" parameter.

An application for this? You can build category based feeds this way even if your blogging system doesn't produce them natively. The include and exclude parameters work on all three forms of your Blitzed feed (HTML, XML and mobile).

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A FeedBurner Alternative: Blitz Your RSS!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update: FeedBurner Alternative Migration Tools

Bloggers looking at FeedBlitz as a FeedBurner alternative have new tools to help simplify FeedBurner migration that automate many of the tasks involved in leaving FeedBurner. The simple step by step guides to using these tools are:

Update: FeedBurner Alternative Comparisons

A feature comparison matrix is available at http://kb.feedblitz.com/article/AA-00444/22/FeedBurner-Comparisons/FeedBlitz-and-FeedBurner-An-Overview.html

Introducing a New FeedBurner Alterantive

FeedBlitz today has opened up a brand new RSS management service to the public. Previously in private beta, the service is designed for publishers, marketers and bloggers who need:
  • Greater choice in the RSS management service market;
  • Better branding in their RSS feeds;
  • A one-stop social media marketing solution encompassing RSS, IM, Twitter, email marketing and mobile-friendly content;
  • Smarter SEO;
  • A new take on metrics;
  • Control over content and viral marketing.
The service is available for free to anyone on FeedBlitz's Newsletter Plus tiered email marketing upgrade. There's a full RSS service FAQ available. I'm very excited about this new offering. The RSS management market has been stagnant for years, and we intend to change that, starting now. You'll see that the FeedBlitz RSS feed service will rapidly evolve over the coming weeks as we learn more about its real-world behavior, what we inspire you (with luck!) to ask for, and what we could do better at. There are more features we have in the queue to add, and we've had some great suggestions already from the private beta that we'll be implementing. The RSS service is also a business, with a corresponding business model. FeedBlitz RSS management services are available to anyone with a Newsletter Plus upgrade, starting at $1.49 per month. If you don't use FeedBlitz for emailing, that's fine - you can run as many RSS feeds as you like through us for that $1.49. You are certainly NOT required to use our email services as well as our RSS platform, but you are required to contribute this low monthly fee at our minimum level. If you do use our Newsletter Plus email service plan, then the RSS feed service is available to you, right now, at no extra charge. Your fee now includes RSS management as part of the bundle. Meanwhile, if you're reading this using an aggregator via FeedBurner or via a regular FeedBlitz subscription, as of Wednesday evening you've actually been following the FeedBlitz version of the feed already, just routed to you via FeedBurner. Still, when you get the chance, though, please update your subscription to http://feeds.feedblitz.com/feedblitz from http://feeds.feedburner.com/feedlbitz (or http://feeds2.feedburner.com/feedblitz or even, yikes, http://feedproxy.google.com/feedblitz). You can also take a look at our new RSS service right now, by:
There's a lot happening in this service that I'll be blogging about in the coming days. Meanwhile, however, the best way to see what we're up to is to get your feet wet. So jump in! The water's lovely. And, yes, this is what I was alluding to earlier in the week, and yes, we're taking on Google. Again. We may be a little crazy, but this is definitely going to be fun…

P.S. Please use the standard contact methods and not comments for RSS support (or for any FeedBlitz service, in fact). Thanks! But feel free to send me a tweet (@phollows) if you've any ideas, bouquets, brickbats or bugs to report...

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Cloudy, with a Chance of Servers

Monday, March 23, 2009

I blogged about a year ago on FeedBlitz's switch from hosting our images on our own servers to using the Amazon cloud. Since then, FeedBlitz has, little by little, become increasingly "cloudy" as we've moved more of the simpler web tasks out into Amazon's cloud-based storage service, called S3.

At the time I wrote that post last year, I had said this:
"If we were to be creating FeedBlitz now, there's no doubt in my mind that I'd
use SDB (or a similar service) and S3 as the back end from the get go."

This week I'll be announcing a public beta test of a brand new service for bloggers and online marketers using social media. And I took my own advice. Its storage is in the cloud, and will be served by cloud-based servers using Amazon's EC2 infrastructure. The only thing that won't be cloud-based is the web site to manage it, which will be integrated with the main FeedBlitz site using our current web servers which are traditionally hosted.

Meanwhile, for those publishers using our graphic circulation chicklet (available from Newsletters - Forms - Subscription Forms), we've introduced a new benefit thanks, in part, to our increasingly cloudy perspective: chicklets now update hourly instead of daily.

And the new service? Expect news on that midweek.

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Enriched Partial Feeds

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back in November 2007 I talked about how we'd improved emails built by truncating content. FeedBlitz kept images in the partial message, even though other services just ripped them out. Pictures are good; we liked that. The emails were better. But it was still only images. Links and other HTML elements were still removed. Better, then, but not perfect.

Today FeedBlitz finished the play.

We're now keeping all safe HTML elements before the cut; including images, links, text changes such as bold and italic fonts, colors, bulleted lists and more. So emails that are truncated are now as rich as their full text equivalents (except that they're, well, not full text).

Last time I used Joel Makower's environmental business blog, Two Steps Forward, as an example. Keeping with his blog as our working example, here's how a subscriber email looked before today:

Note that the pictures are present, but there are no links in the body of each post.

Now, take a look below at what the new feature adds. All the links before the cut-off are present in the abridged text (they're underlined in the screenshot below); links are also placed on the images if they're present that way in the original. If Joel had other formatting above the fold it would appear too:

No confusion for readers (don't you hate it when it says "click here" for something, but the link has been removed and you can't click? No more!). Greater interactivity. More chances to have your readers take an action based on your content, even if you abridge.

Altogether better.

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