News and updates about the River2 aggregator.
Using Dropbox to publish your aggregator
This brings together a bunch of different threads, using one of my favorite software products in a new, almost surprising way. The idea was suggested by a user named elasticthreads in a very simple comment on the Frontier News blog.
Is it possible to serve up my NewsRiver via Dropbox?
I didn’t understand what he was asking at first, but then I thought about it and it all of a sudden made sense.
1. Suppose you want to have your river accessible anywhere, but you don’t want to invest in a server somewhere, but you have a desktop computer at home that isn’t doing much during the day. Why not have it create a river for you and publish it via Dropbox?
2. And Dropbox has a very cool feature for this kind of app. If you store a file in the Public folder at the top level of your dropbox, you can get a public URL for the file by right-clicking it and choosing Copy Public Link from the popup menu, as illustrated in this screen shot.
Just to show that it works, here’s my public river. (It’s a subset of the river I depend on every day, which contains some feeds I don’t want to show publicly, which illustrates an important point — be careful using this feature.)
How to set up
0. If you don’t already have river2.root, follow the instructions on this page.
1. In the OPML Editor, bring river2.root to the front and choose Update Front Tool from the Tools menu. Click OK when the confirmation dialog appears. (It’s possible your copy of River2 has already updated.)
2. You must have Dropbox running on your system. Locate your Dropbox folder. Create a sub-folder of your Public folder called River2. If you accepted the defaults, this is where your folder will be, first on Mac, second on Windows.
C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\My Documents\My Dropbox\Public\River2\
Replace “yourname” with your name. On my Mac my name is davewiner and on Windows it’s Dave Winer.
3. Visit the Prefs page for River2 (you can locate it in the Menu at the top of every page on the River2 site).
4. About 3/4 the way down the page you’ll see a section called “Dropbox”. Check the box to enable the feature. It’s turned off by default. Then carefully enter the path to your Dropbox folder. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Submit.
5. Bring the OPML Editor app to the front. From the River2 sub-menu of the Tools menu, choose Scan Now. This will read all your news, podcast and photo feeds, looking for new items. When it’s complete, if all goes well, you should see a file called index.html in the River2 sub-folder of the Public folder in your Dropbox.
5. Because it’s in the Public folder this file is publicly accessible. To determine its address, right-click on the index.html file name, and choose Copy Public Link from the Dropbox sub-menu in the popup. Paste the link into the address bar of your browser. You might want to bookmark it.
index.html will be re-built every time River2 does a scan. By default that happens once per hour, but you can change that using the Prefs command in River2. The images folder contains images that are needed to view the page. They are all synchronized through the normal Dropbox process.
If you have any questions, please post a comment below. If you want to share the address of your river, please do so. It’s always interesting to see how people are using the software.
If you run River2 on more than one machine, you can only turn this feature on on one of them, otherwise they will write over each other.