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FeedWind Pro PayPal subscribers – renewals

We no longer accept PayPal as a payment method

We recently introduced a new automated payment system to upgrade from our existing manual system for FeedWind Pro subscribers. Previously we accepted PayPal as a payment method. However, our new payment system does not accept PayPal payments, so for those existing users who are due for renewal we will require payment for the renewal by credit or debit card.

We understand that this change in payment options might be an inconvenience for PayPal subscribers, so for those users we are offering a discount of $39 when you renew using a credit/debit payment using the new automated system.

So how do I upgrade my PayPal Pro account to the new system?

All you have to do is visit our payments page and enter you payment details (credit/debit card). We will not charge your card immediately. We will only charge the card on the renewal/expiry date.

To compensate you for the inconvenience we will apply the $39 discount at that time. If you decide to cancel before your renewal is due then just let us know and we will prevent any further charges from being made.

If you have any questions about this process or anything to do with FeedWind, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Introducing Our New “Plus Plan” – Save More Widgets!

The new FeedWind “Plus” plan

Today we are pleased to announce the release of a new subscription plan to allow you to save more widgets.

The new Plus plan is $179 per year and allows you to store up to 50 widgets (the Pro plan allows for 20). Now you can create even more widgets under one subscription account! You can find out more about our subscription plans at our FAQ page.

feedwind plus plan

If you would like to check out the new Plus plan with a free 14-day trial, head on over to our subscriptions page.


 

Content syndication – more popular than ever!

Is RSS dead?

You may well ask if RSS is dead, but in reality RSS is very much alive and kicking. It is true that a number of major content providers such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have deprecated their RSS services. Driven by changes to preferred feed mechanisms, many large information and social media sources are moving towards the use of APIs as opposed to RSS. This is mostly a matter of economy and convenience for them as their APIs are used for all manner of software applications. Using the same APIs to provide feed generation allows them to reduce the resources previously required to deliver content via RSS.

RSS is still very popular

is rss deadSo is RSS dead?..Not for tens of millions of WordPress and other popular CMS users/publishers. RSS is still the most convenient method to feed data from web pages. RSS is built into most CMS platforms so it makes sense to use this functionality. Obviously sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are built on a proprietary platform.

This means that providing and supporting RSS feeds requires specific resources to maintain service levels. Facebook for example, already provides this information through their Facebook Graph API, which is designed for programmers to build Facebook software and apps. At FeedWind we wrote our own software which accesses the Facebook API to extract information which we combine into a feed.

Re-using code is not an option

is rss aliveIf the world of software was simple, we could simply reuse that code to provide support for Instagram and many other social media providers. Unfortunately each of these platforms has a different API so the code we write to extract a feed from an API is different from each platform we support. Obviously there is some code we recycle but overall, a lot of programming effort goes into each platform we support.

Let’s take a quick look at RSS feeds and what they are. Many people think RSS is a simple standard that uses XML to deliver website content in a markup format which contains no formatting data. To an extent this is true. In fact, feeds can be one of five versions of the RSS standard, or one of two versions of the Atom standard (a similar markup specification for feeds).

In amongst this, FeedWind has to be able to figure out which of these standards a particular feed adheres to. Fortunately this information is included in the header of a valid feed so this is not the big challenge.

Feed parsing

Things do get complex when detecting and parsing to determine relevant elements for inclusion in your widget. A good example of this challenge is in deciding which image we should select as a thumbnail. We have to detect language, feed title, item titles plus their descriptions, images, timezones, date/time formats and deal with content in XML that is not relevant to the display of a feed. For Google calendar we have to extract different information such as event data.

Determining feed origin

Once we have achieved this we also have to determine what origin the feed has. Is it a YouTube channel, Facebook feed, Google Calendar feed or a regular RSS feed? These all require a specific approach when it comes to parsing the content for display in our widget. A YouTube feed for example requires a video player; as mentioned above,  Facebook feed requires us to use the Facebook Graph API in order to extract the feed data which is not in XML like a regular RSS feed and Google Calendar has different information from other feeds such as event data which are not a component of other RSS feeds.

Ever more complex solutions

All this amounts to a complex backend to our system to cope with all these varied feed sources and mechanisms. Presently we require our users to select which feed type they want to display so that does make things a little easier (in the setup process users must select RSS/Facebook/Gcal as their source feed). However, from that point onwards, our software puts in a lot of hard work to format and present your feeds in a widget that can be customized in so many ways with little effort from the user.

We are constantly asked for expansions to our widget service to include online platforms which do not offer RSS as a feed format. Instagram and Pinterest for example, have joined others in abandoning RSS in favor of alternative methods for providing a feed source. Each one of these requires a significant programming effort for us to be able to display feeds generated from their APIs. We are actively working on these with Instagram most likely the first in a series of releases which will add support for more platforms.

Need to look good? ..you need a customizable widget!

There are services out there which offer a huge range of support for platforms whose feeds are API driven. However, they do not offer the same level of customization or features that FeedWind provides. Many have fixed format displays or templates, branding/advertising (which is generally obtrusive) and only a basic level of possible customizations.

We have focused on providing a consistent interface which can be used to customize/format feed content to match user needs rather than providing a basic, common widget format/display. A fixed format for a widget makes it difficult to match website design. For his treason, this type of widget will often stand out and can make a site look amateurish from a design perspective. Feedwind offers full CSS customization so our widgets can seamlessly integrate into nearly any website/CMS.

 


 

Changing a Link Target in 3rd Party Content

link targetWe are often asked whether it is possible to change the link target for links in feeds. This article explains why we do not allow link targets to be changed using our interface.

When a feed is published by a 3rd party (for example Reuters, BBC News or even a Facebook feed), there will be in nearly every case, a “Terms and Conditions of Use associated with that feed. For example a Facebook feed will contain images owned by either Facebook or by the user who published that page.

Copyright law applies to a link target

While you can disable these links, you cannot (legally, for copyright and “terms of use”  reasons) change the link target to another site. i.e. your image links cannot be redirected to a different website. This will be in direct contravention of the terms of use of the RSS feed publisher in 90% of cases.

In all cases, directing the photo to another link is also in contravention of copyright as under those laws, you are not permitted to change content for your own gain unless you have explicit permission from the owner. Neither can you change an outgoing  link from an image as it would be deemed usage of that image for gain, which copyright law does not accommodate unless agreement with the owner is obtained, or royalty paid for usage. Owner consent is usually still mandatory regardless. It does depend on which part of the world you are in as to what copyright laws apply. At FeedWind we generally err on the side of copyright law in the US and Europe.

Why we don’t offer a link editing feature

If we enabled a feature whereby users could change the link target, then although we would not be committing a crime, it is a feature that would enable others to do so. We have to respect the rights of content owners to reproduce their content without tampering or altering the content, or making it convenient for their content to be used for gain without appropriate permission. Quite likely, if we were to be seen to be doing so, we would not be popular with RSS feed publishers and content owners.

Disabling links is acceptable

It is possible however to disable links as this is an acceptable form of modification. Many webmasters may like to display 3rd party content but may not want their users to click-thru and leave their site. This can be achieved by using a custom CSS which includes “pointer-events:none” for feed item titles and links in the description.


References

http://www.worldlaw.eu/article/3331/rss-feeds-copyright-law.html

https://www.out-law.com/page-7843

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

https://www.rightsdirect.com/international-copyright-basics/


CSS for Google Calendar Event Date & Time Elements

custom google calendar widgetWe have just introduced new classes for the Google Calendar widget date & time components.

These allow you to customize the date and time with CSS and achieve any styling you want. You can match your website style and make your Calendar Event date/time more prominent in the feed.

This article focuses on the CSS used for the date/time components of your custom Google Calendar widget. You can find out more about how to use CSS to style the remaining widget components in our in-depth article on Google Calendar CSS.

Custom Google Calendar Widget CSS Classes

These are the relevant classes for Google Calendar event date/time:


‘Clock icon’ class

This class is for the clock icon which appears alongside the date/time by default.

.fa.fa-clock-o

Note – If you wish to hide this icon you can use:

.fa.fa-clock-o {display:none!important;}


‘Time’ class

The ‘Time’ class styles the time element of the date/time.

.fw-gc-feed-item-time-only


‘Date’ class

The ‘Date’ class styles the date element of the date/time.

.fw-gc-feed-item-date-only


‘Date & Time’ class

This class styles both date and time components. Useful for adding a border around the whole date+time element, or to reposition the whole date+time element using margins.

.fw-gc-feed-item-date


Using these CSS classes you can create a widget such as the example below. You can find the full CSS used for this custom Gcal widget here.


If you need any assistance with customizing your Google Calendar widget, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help!


Increase widget load speed

Your widget loading (and page loading speed) can be negatively affected by a number of factors, but there are also ways to increase widget load speed. We aim to provide the fastest RSS widget available, but there are limiting circumstances which are out of our control. We do apply caching of your widget and refresh your widget cache every 15 minutes.

Some of the parameters used in the FeedWind setup screen can affect widget/page-loading performance and are detailed below.


Number of feed items

The more feed items you specify in your widget setup, the longer it will take to load the widget as our server has to make more calls to the source feed server in order to obtain your content.

The default setting is 15 feed items but you can increase this up to 99; please note however, that there is a proportional increase in load time for widget content as the number of items increases.


Text/Thumb/HTML Styles

The fastest load performance is achieved using the Text-only widget style. The Thumbnail option is next-fastest, with the HTML style loading slowest. Obviously the more media within the content, the slower a widget will load too.


Number of Characters in the Titles & Content

The greater number of characters allowed in the content, the slower your widget performance will be as more data must be transferred. However, this is a minor influence on the widget load speed.


Feed URLs

The more feed URLs you aggregate the slower your widget will load. To increase widget load speed, please limit the number of URLs you use in a widget.  Our system limits the number of feed URLs to 15 at present.

When choosing feeds from third parties, it is important to choose those from sources whose servers can offer the same approximate response times. If you have a single feed in your multiple feeds list whose server is slow to respond, your widget will also be slow to refresh.


Custom CSS

Loading a custom CSS requires an external server call to wherever the CSS file is stored. This means that he widget cannot load until the server hosting the CSS responds and delivers the requested CSS data. This means that storing the CSS on the same server (preferably within the same directory structure of your site files). Caching the CSS file is also recommended.


Page Caching (plugins & extensions)

These can vastly improve widget loading times as HTML, CSS and .js all of which are used with the FeedWind RSS widget. You must be careful not to set the cache refresh to more than 15 minutes however, otherwise users may not get the widget content refreshed during the FeedWind 15 minute refresh cycle.


 

Using Dropbox to host CSS files

How to host css stylesheets on Dropbox

It’s easy to host CSS stylesheets on Dropbox where you can store a CSS file for a custom Feedwind widget without having to store a CSS file on your own server. This is particularly useful where you are using an online platform such as Wix or Weebly to build your site. Platforms like these do not have the facility for storing CSS files, so Dropbox is a great solution.

First you need to create your custom CSS file. Depending on what sort of widget you a building (RSS widget, Facebook page widget or Google Calendar widget). You can use any code editor or plain text editor to create your CSS as explained in the relevant support documents for CSS.

Once you have created your stylesheet and saved it as a .css file, you can then upload it to Dropbox for later use.

Get the URL for your .css file

On an Apple Mac

On an Apple Mac, Open your dropbox, and locate your .css file. Right-click on the file and select “Copy Public Link.” This will copy the publicly available URL for your .css file to your clipboard.

host css with dropbox

In a windows-based browser

In a windows browser, Dropbox display things a little differently from the Apple Mac version or the Dropbox app. Below are example screenshots for the Windows browser:

dropbox can host css files

Grab the custom .css file link for use in Feedwind by clicking on the “Share” button alongside your .css file in the Dropbox file list. The following modal will appear:

use dropbox for css

The URL will look something like this:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/j0vdhe8owoolgh5/custom98.css?dl=0

To use this URL in FeedWind you will need to make a small adjustment to the URL by changing the www. In the URL to dl.

e.g. www.dropbox.com/../ becomes https://dl.dropbox.com/../

When you have your new URL e.g.

https://dl.dropbox.com/s/j0vdhe8owoolgh5/custom98.css?dl=0

You can then use this .css URL in your RSS, Google Calendar or Facebook page widget setup screens


 

What is FeedWind used for?

FeedWind is an extremely versatile RSS widget. With support for so many platforms and implementations, Feedwind is the ideal solution for anyone who needs to display RSS feeds using a customizable widget. Here are some examples of how Feedwind can be used:

Tickertape

A traditional format consisting of a single line of horizontally scrolling text. These are commonly used to display exchange rates, news headlines

Custom colors and fonts

Match the color design of any website and match the fonts. Choose to do this from the FeedWind setup screen, or by using a custom CSS to define your own fonts or use webfonts.

Custom shapes

Feedwind is so versatile, you can use a custom CSS to create any type of styling effect – need a circular widget – easy!

 

Slideshow

Feedwind can be used to feed images into a horizontal scrolling slideshow. Ideal for a website banner which displays the latest news or other images.

News widget

Many web designers consider RSS feeds only as a source of news content. This is where FeedWind was born – our original widget was aimed at doing just that and we continue to provide the best RSS news widget available.

Blog summary

Blogs like this one you are reading are great places for users to get insight into the topics you want to share.

For a user to find an article of interest, they may be required to scroll through your blog or perform a search. Even with a summary, users can still have difficulty finding what they want. A FeedWind scrolling feed widget allows users to see a blog summary (as text only/thumbnail/full HTML) which auto-scrolls so they can find what they want with more ease.