A number of parsing issues have always plagued Feed On Feeds and thus MonkeyChow. Sometimes odd characters in a feed would throw off reception of the feed. Feeds would not validate for silly (but valid) reasons like Feeds should not be served with the “text/html; charset=utf-8” media type. I would notice that Google Reader, MyYahoo and Bloglines had no trouble handling these feeds. In some unfortunate cases I would not notice that the feed was broken until I noticed that the age for the feed was way off. In some cases strange characters would appear in the middle of the feed title of body and would throw off the formatting of the whole page. Sometimes an unexpected character would cause Magpie to throw out feed items, so that I would miss announcements. Since I rely on only RSS for my web browsing and incoming information, this presented a real problem. I lived with it for a while since it was only a few feeds and the outages were intermittent, but as feeds have become more and more mainstream, more feeds were breaking or misbehaving.
A new RSS parser recently appeared on Digg, and I decided to investigate. It turns out that SimplePie is distantly related to Magpie, and does a much better job of handling all of the above problems, and it is actively being supported. At one point I misunderstood how I was supposed to use part of the API and I jumped onto the IC channel where someone was there to help. I spent the entire day breaking and fixing code, and was able to migrate all of MonkeyChow over to using SimplePie. In reality changes were minimal and most of that time was getting the API to do what I wanted in order to avoid changing the way MonkeyChow looked. Hopefully you will not notice that this backend functionality has been changed. As of this evening I can say that it works like a charm!! This is only available in the latest SVN release.
After seeing the great looking SimplePie demo, I’ve been inspired to start looking at the look and feel of MonkeyChow and will soon start coding to that. I hope to provide some “preferences” functionality here so that people can decide how they want their individual install to look. Eventually this will lead to multi-user capability.
I’m still waiting for help with translations, so if you are fluent enough to know when Babelfish is bing awkward, drop me a line. I will want to have a few of those translations done before I put out the next milestone release.