Backfeed – the memorable feed processor
Backfeed takes an RSS feed and concatenates it with deduplicated historical items from snapshots of the feed saved in the archive.org Wayback Machine. You’ll get a Backfeed URL to enter into your news aggregator or podcatcher which will give you access to a larger set of items than the official feed. This is useful when a RSS feed author includes only a few items in the latest feed, but you know there are older items which are just not listed.
- Request a backfeed access key (from me, at quinn at strangecode dot com). Enter it into the access key field above.
- Find the URL to an RSS or podcast feed. Enter it into the Feed URL field above.
- Click Backfeed it!
- Wait for it to process. Typical feeds take about a minute to load, but large feeds with a lot of history can take an hour or more.
- The new feed URL will be printed on your screen.
- Copy this new URL into your feed reader.
- What kind of RSS feeds can Backfeed process?
- Backfeed can process any XML-formatted RSS feed, for both podcasts and articles.
- Are all back items retrieved?
- Usually, yes. Backfeed will retrieve up to 5000 unique snapshots from archive.org. Each snapshot will link to multiple podcast episodes or articles, so the total number of items can be many more. If a feed is updated frequently, and has a very large history, 5000 snapshots may not be enough to include the full history.
- Some podcast episodes or articles are missing.
- Either archive.org is missing snapshots for some period of time, or items with missing mp3 files or broken links were excluded (to include all items even if their content is missing tick the checkbox for Include items with missing enclosures or articles under Advanced options).
- It’s so slow!
- The first time Backfeed loads a feed, it downloads historical snapshots and verifies every link in every snapshot. A large feed, with a long history, may have hundreds of snapshots and many thousands of articles or episodes; this may take an hour or more to process. Backfeed caches snapshots and links, so subsequent requests to a feed will load more quickly.
- The page crashed with a Bad Gateway error.
- This means Backfeed is taking a long time to process a feed, and the connection to the server was closed. Backfeed is still working in the background. Go make a cup of coffee, come back in an hour, reload the page, and the feed should load correctly the second time.
- Is Backfeed bulletproof?
- Backfeed is not mature software, and probably doesn't work with all URLs. If a Backfeed-generated URL works for you, it will continue to work as long as: a) the original feed URL does not change, b) archive.org continues to hold historical content for that URL, and c) Backfeed continues to operate as a service.
- What else can go wrong?
- The most common issue is a complete lack of snapshots for your feed on archive.org. Search for your feed URL to see if any snapshots are available.
- The feed host may use a robots.txt file that prevents archive.org from saving copies of the feed.
- It’s possible the XML structure of a feed is not understood by Backfeed, in which case it will dump an error.
- For prolific feed sources, Backfeed could create output which is very large, and may conceivably cause problems for some feed readers.
- Backfeed will take a long time to process feeds with a vast history. The initial load may take an hour or more, and subsequent loads may take up to 20 seconds. Some feed readers may timeout on such feeds.
- Certainly, something I didn’t think of will break.
- Is this a free service?
- Free for now, but bandwidth costs have forced me to limit the number of people with access to the service. If you like Backfeed, saying thanks with cash will help encourage me to keep the service online. ;)
- What if I find a bug?
- If you have any problems contact me at @com on twitter or send an email to quinn at strangecode dot com.