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Using Drupal RSS aggregator to centralize news on a site

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Some examples of feed aggregator have been presented at the 11th European Conference of Health and Medical Libraries [http://www.congreszon.fi/eahil_2008/]

Would it be possible to create such a feed aggregator within Drupal?

Material

We have activated the Feed aggregator core module and begin the parametrization:

  • we defined some sources
  • we create some categories (topic)

Results

Categorize feeds

The aggregator modules allows to categorize the incoming feeds. Unfortunately, the aggregator category tool is not based on the taxonomy module (core). This has some cons:

  • there is only one category: we choose 'topic'
  • there is no hierarchy, only one level of categories: this limit the organisation of the feeds
  • feeds may not be listed with other content types created on the Website

Each feed may receive several categories, a feed item may be edited afterwards.

Access the feeds

There are only two way of viewing the feeds:

  • by category: the menu display all categories as sub-menu
  • by source: all sources are listed in the main page by alphabetical oreder

Store and search feeds

The feeds are not integrated into nodes: they stay apart from the content generated on drupal.

  • they may be kept, but for a maximum of 16 weeks, not more.
  • they may not be searched

Personalizing feeds

There is no possibility to allow users to personalize the feed they wish to see, or store some results.

Discussion

"CISMeF actualités" and "Feed Navigator" have multiple categories that allow to sort the feeds:

  • Country or topic for CISMeF actualités
  • 4 publication type for Feed Navigator

The feed aggregator core module is more basic: it only allow to get the feed category or to list the sources.
Reproducing the access of the models cited before could be possible with some adaptation (creating a menu pointing to one or several aggregator category), but the feeds would not be stored and would not be searchable: two major advantages of CISMeF actualités and Feed Aggregator.

Conclusion

The Feed aggregator (core) of Drupal 6 is still basic an won't allow librarians to create a tool that compare with CISMeF actualités or FeedNavigator.
The planned evolution for Drupal 7 could enhance drastically Drupal [http://groups.drupal.org/node/9857], but until then, you have to rely on third party modules, as usual.

Several have been developed, but few are available for Drupal 6 and some are still in dev status. The more useful seems to be

To build a feed aggregator with advanced that could compete with CISMeF actualités or FeedNavigator, we will have to test the identified third part modules.

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