FeedWordPress 0.992: author remapping and URI bug fix

Update 2008-11-06: FeedWordPress 0.992 is now out of date. You can download the latest release — 2008.1105 at the time of this writing — from the project homepage.

0.992 is now available for download.(http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.0.992.zip)

Since I’ve had to spend time either traveling or working on other projects, it’s been longer than I would have liked since the last update of FeedWordPress. This release is a rather limited one: it fixes one outstanding bug and adds one major new feature:

WordPress 2.x’s handling of URIs in Blogroll links created problems for
updating any feeds whose URIs included an ampersand character, such as
Google News RSS feeds and other feeds that have multiple parameters
passed through HTTP GET. If you experienced this bug, the most likely
effect was that FeedWordPress simply would not import new posts from a
feed when instructred to do so, returning a “0 new posts” response. In
other cases, it might lead to unpredictable results from feed updates,
such as importing posts which were not contained in the feed being
syndicated, but which did appear elsewhere on the same website. This bug
has, hopefully, been resolved, by correcting for the bug in WordPress.

2. **NEW FEATURE – AUTHOR RE-MAPPING:** I’ve been promising this one to my e-mail
correspondents for a couple of months now; and I’m happy to announce that I’ve been able to polish
up the preliminary implementation that I was working on late last year and make it ready for general
consumption. FeedWordPress now offers a new feature in the site-wide Syndication Options
(Syndication –> Options), and in the settings for each syndicated feed (Syndication –> Syndicated
Sites –> Edit). You can now create re-mapping rules to determine how author names in a feed are
translated into usernames within the WordPress database.

Traditionally, what FeedWordPress has done, when adding a post, is to take the author information
from the feed and search the WordPress database to determine whether there is a username with
the same name or e-mail address. If it found a match, then the new post would be assigned to that
user. If there was no match, then FeedWordPress would consult the settings for the feed, or the
global default settings, for what to do with an unfamiliar author. These could be set by the
administrator from within the WordPress Dashbard, with three options: (1) create a new user
account with the same name as the author, and assign the new post to that new user; (2) filter out
the post rather than adding it to the database; or (3) assign the new post to a default user (user #1
in the WordPress database, i.e. the site administrator).

With the new re-mapping feature, you have considerably more control over what FeedWordPress
does with post authorship data from the feed. In the settings for each syndicated feed (Syndication
–> Syndicated Sites –> Edit), you can now define rules that tell FeedWordPress what to do with
each particular author name on that feed — to filter out all posts by that author, or to assign posts
by that author to any username that you like. You can also tell FeedWordPress what to do with
usernames that aren’t listed in your rules, and which don’t match any of the users already in the
WordPress database — to filter out the posts, or to assign them to any username you like, or to
create a new username to match the new author, or to follow the default setting for new author
names on all feeds. The site-wide default setting can be changed using Options –> Syndication.

So, for example, one of my friends runs a FeedWordPress aggregator site that syndicates
. The problem is that, like an increasing number of WordPress
blogs out there, all the posts on this blog are attributed to Administrator. For those visiting
the blog directly, it’s clear that Administrator is the blogger; but when someone aggregates
the blog on another website, the naming now mistakenly implies that the Administrator of the
*aggregator* website is the author of the post. (It also means that if two or more blogs both
attribute their posts to Administrator, the aggregator site will mistakenly treat all of the
posts from all of those blogs as being by the same author.) With the new re-mapping feature, you
could now define a rule that would attribute posts by Administrator from the praxeology.net
feed to a different username — in this case, Roderick Long. Problem solved. Huzzah!

One more note before I go. I regret that I haven’t been able to develop FeedWordPress more actively than I currently am developing it, or to spend as much time handling and responding to bug reports as I would like. I originally created FeedWordPress for my own use, and made it available to others in the hope that it would be useful, so the best guarantee of getting a feature added or a bug identified and quickly fixed has always been whether it’s one that I personally encountered, or one of my friends encountered, in the course of using it. But I’m really very pleased with how much uptake and interest there has been for FeedWordPress. Ideally I would like to devote much more time to FeedWordPress development and support than I currently do. But I earn my living freelance, by the hour or by the project, and I do have to pay my rent every month, so the only way that I can keep up with this on more than a limited and casual basis is if the donations from FeedWordPress users allow me to free up the time needed to work on FeedWordPress, rather than spending the same time looking for paying gigs.

So, if you would like to see more regular upgrades and bugfixes, and more rapid replies to your support questions, I’d urge you to consider how much ongoing development and support for FWP is worth to you, and consider making a contribution through the project donation jar at . It’s in your hands, and anything you can offer will help. (If I had $5 for everyone who ever sent me a FeedWordPress tech support question, I’d be flush for the next several years….)