In case you haven’t noticed, the beta version of MXNA
being rolled out incrementally. Today’s increment: MXNA
Mike Chambers and I have been working on and off on the new MXNA 2.0 reports,
along with a general reporting framework, for a couple of weeks now, and I think
they turned out really well. We used Flex and the Flex charting components for
refreshing the page. The charts are
populated with data through the MXNA
2.0 web services, and can express that data
in a variety of ways as the user interacts with them. And when the user clicks
on certain parts of the chart, the relevant posts are rendered below using AJAX,
almost instantaneously. The whole experience allows for a great deal of interactivity
without a single page refresh, and with almost no waiting.
We feel that combining Flash and AJAX in this instance allows us to get the best
of both worlds, and really gives the user a unique and immediate user experience.
Flash/Flex were perfect for the charts, and really allowed us to focus on the data
and the presentation rather than the mechanics of the charts themselves. Using
AJAX to render the post data allowed us to reuse the exact same rendering code
that the rest of the application uses when displaying posts, and because it is
HTML, it allows for things like shift-clicking on links, and native browser scroll
We have several more reports in the pipeline, but we probably won’t be launching
any more this week since I’m in Las Vegas as TODCON.
If you have any ideas for specific reports that you would like to see, let
us know. We want to make sure we
are presenting the community with the most useful information we can.
If you’ve sent us any email regarding the MXNA
2.0 beta, or if you’ve submitted
your site recently, you have probably noticed that we haven’t gotten a chance to
respond. Don’t worry — we will get to every email and every submission very soon.
As you might imagine, we have been very busy for the last couple of days, but things
should be back to business as usual by the end of the week.
Anyone out there going to be in Vegas for TODCON next week? If so, drop me a line.
I arrive Sunday night.
Macromedia developer Deng Jie recently made
a post asking us to add language navigation to MXNA 2.0. In other words, he wanted
a list of languages along the right-hand side (just like categories and Smart Categories)
that you could easily click on to browse the most recent posts in that particular
language. Seemed like a good idea to us, so we added it. Check
I also added some additional RSS support in yesterday’s build. Now, whenever you
are looking at a set of data that is available as RSS (which is pretty much everything),
you’ll see a little "rss" link next to the page title. MXNA 2.0 also supports auto-discovery,
so if you’re using Firefox, you’ll notice the little RSS icon in the status bar.
For those of you who ping MXNA to let us know you have made a new post, you can
now update your ping URL to point to MXNA
2.0. Your old ping ID will work, so all
you need to do is change the host and domain from "www.markme.com" to "weblogs.macromedia.com".
(If you have any problems, let me know).
If you don’t know your ping ID, but would like to start pinging MXNA, you can send
email to email@example.com to find out
your ping ID. If you want to ping MXNA, but you can’t set up your blogging software
to ping automatically, you can use the MXNA
2.0 ping form to
do a manual ping. If you have no idea what a ping is, check out the MXNA
I want to thank everyone for all the feedback we’ve gotten on the MXNA 2.0 beta
so far. We had about 50 additional feed submissions, some great feature requests,
and even a few bug reports. MXNA 2.0 automatically emails errors to me as soon
as they occur, usually with enough information that I can get them fixed pretty
quickly, and you guys helped me uncover a couple good ones faster than any QA team
I installed a new build last night with the
- Added the Danish, Turkish, and Indonesian languages.
- Fixed a bug in mobile smart categories. If you’ve been trying to view smart
categories on your mobile device (I know you’re out there because I saw the bug
reports), they’re working now.
- Fixed a bug in the search term RSS. MXNA 2.0 lets you create
custom RSS feeds from aggregated data, including feeds based on search terms.
Yesterday search-based feeds were broken, today they are not.
- Added the number of feeds being aggregated in the header. Expect that number
to continue to rise, especially for non-English feeds.
- Removed the code that automatically focused the cursor in the search box so
you can now use the space bar or arrow keys to scroll down without having to
click on the page first.
- Fixed a bug that was causing the application to fail when rendering pages that
we can’t translate yet. Yesterday, I added our first Russian
weblog which threw
things off a bit since MXNA 2.0 does not support Russian translations yet.
Anyway, I fixed the bug on our end, and will add support for Russian translations
as soon as it’s supported by Google (our translation engine).
- Added about 50 new weblogs, most non-English. I’m really glad to be able to
include the rest of the world in MXNA 2.0.
- Worked out some kinks in the ping mechanism. After you make a new post, be sure
to ping MXNA 2.0 so
we can aggregate your work right away. You can configure
your blogging application to do the ping automatically, or you can easily do it manually just by typing
in your site’s URL.
I think that’s all. Anyway, on to today’s list of updates!
Does anyone have any spare invites? I’m dying to get a look at it.
Update: Thanks Bryan Rieger, Danger, and Oscar Trelles for the invites!
I’d like to invite you all to participate in the MXNA
2.0 beta. MXNA (Macromedia
XML News Aggregator) 2.0 is a complete rewrite of the original version of MXNA
with several new features including:
- Smart Categories.
- Support for non-English feeds.
- Localization support.
- Self-service site submission.
- Improved ping support.
- Ability to translate posts (using Google’s translation
- Ability to generate custom RSS feeds from MXNA 2.0.
- Improved search including
an advanced search option.
- Huge performance improvements.
- Improved (we think) interface.
- New design (thanks to Josh Dura).
- Much better web service API.
- More powerful mobile interface.
- Atom support.
- Pre-fetching and caching of top rated items.
You can find the new version of MXNA here:
If you are not already aggregated by MXNA, you can submit your feed
If your language is not listed, let
us know, and we’ll add it. All languages are
Keep in mind that this is a beta, which is fancy way of saying that there are
bugs to be fixed, and kinks to be worked out. Please email any issues you find
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some additional
- The original version of MXNA will remain active for the time being, but eventually
all MXNA traffic will be redirected to MXNA 2.0. You might as well start
updating your bookmarks now.
- All new weblogs will be added to MXNA 2.0 only.
- The MXNA 1.0 web service API will be deprecated eventually in favor of the much
more comprehensive 2.0 API.
- If you have a ping URL, you will need to update it by replacing "www.markme.com"
with "weblogs.macromedia.com". Eventually pings will be redirected, but it’s
still best to start using the new URL.
- Some non-English feeds are not parsing correctly for some reason which I think
has to do with character encodings. The majority are working fine, but some are
not readable. If you have any insight into what the problem might be, let
me know. Otherwise, I’ll get it figured out and fixed during the beta period.
Thanks for helping us test, and let us know what you think.
I’m thinking of adding a Java category to MXNA. Anyone have any favorite Java blogs?
Thanks to a comment left by Roger Benningfield in
response to yesterday’s
I am evaluating Shrook.
So far, I’m very happy with it. It has a very iTunes-like interface with a library
containing all your feeds which you add to one or more groups (like playlists).
Below are the features that really set it apart from other aggregators I’ve used:
- Smart groups. Smart groups dynamically categorize content based on one or more
- iPod support. Export everything to iPod notes.
- Server synchronization. Synchronize with Shrook’s servers (which unfortunately
are currently being upgraded) so you can access your feeds via the web. By synching
with their servers, you can also sync to other instances of Shrook on other
- Distributed checking. When new items are found, they are reported to a central
server which allows other Shrook clients to be updated faster than if they
simply waited to aggregate.
- Scrapbook. Drag items into one or more scrapbooks to save for later.
I need to exercise the application for a few more days before shelling out the
$24.95, but so far, it has made a very good first impression on me. In the meantime,
I’ll try some of your other suggestions, as well, just in case.
An unfortunate thing happened to me this morning. I have an old evaluation of NetNewsWire installed alongside the free version of NetNewsWire Lite which I use(d) extensively on a daily basis. This morning, when using Quicksilver to open NetNewsWire Lite, I accidentally opened the old expired evaluation version of NetNewsWire. For some reason, it overwrote all my NetNewsWire Lite feeds with the default list of feeds that come with the application.
This is very much not a good thing. I’m sure I had well over 100 feeds pertaining to everything that interests me (mostly technology, but also some personal weblogs, watch weblogs, etc.). I have a backup from November that will allow me to recover many of my feeds, but my collection was constantly evolving and being refined, so the last four months of tweaks are gone.
Anyway, enough lamenting. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to start fresh with a new collection of feeds, new organization, and certainly a new aggregator. I really like(d) NetNewsWire, but I don’t think I can bring myself to use it again. Additionally, I’m tired or waiting for the 2.0 version just to get Atom support (it’s been in beta for a very very long time).
So my first question is what aggregators are Mac users out there using these days? I’m willing to go with either local or web-based. Once I settle on a new aggregator, I will then ask people to post some of their favorite blogs. I’m pretty sure I can have all my old feeds back with a couple of hours of searching and surfing, but I’d like to use this opportunity to find some new, more obscure feeds worth aggregating. That’s a question for another time, though. First the aggregator.