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Expands FeedItems with the body of items referred to

Project description

What is it?

Feedfiller is intended to work alongside Zest Software’s FeedFeeder

package, and provide the additional functionality of filling each news feed item with the clean body content of the page it refers to. Feedfiller can be educated about structure of content, to help access the most interesting page elements. If does not yet ‘know’ the structure of the target page, all it can do is include the whole page. We will improve this as the project develops.

Clearly there are potential copyright issues with the re-publishing of copyrighted works. But for research and analysis purposes, these may not be an issue for your organization. Our own purpose is to use collected text for classification and analysis for internal use. You should seek your own legal advice on this topic.


BeautifulSoup, Products.feedfeeder. If you use the egg package, these dependencies will be managed for you.

How does it work?

Feedfiller subscribes to the event created after storage of each news feed item created by FeedFeeder and fetches the target page of that item. This means that all items will be be filled with the content of the page they refer to. Fetched pages are flayed (“Flay: Verb: to strip off the skin or surface of”) by a Flayer looked up in a FlayerRegistry by URL.

Flayers may be easily written to accomodate new pages. Flayers can be created and registered for different sections of a site, in case HTML structure varies in sub-trees of the site.

If no flayer is registered for the URL, a default flayer is used that returns the whole body of the page.

Currently site-specific flayers try to reveal author, copyright, and body, but the default flayer

The flayer base-class currently stores the original page fetched from the server, to facilitate further development and refinemement of flayers without repeatedly fetching content.


The next step is to develop a table-driven flayer, for which table entries can be generated interactively by clicking on an enhanced version of the default flay, a bit like a basic firebug view of the structure of a page with buttons to manually select the body area of a page. This will rmoyrequire a new view for this purpose, available to managers.

There is no reason why the table-drive flayer should not be able to handle the complexity of the BBC news page, leaving only the trickiest pages to the custom class approach used currently.

Table items should eventually be replicated across all other feedfiller users, perhaps using bi-directional rsync using a central repository, or perhaps using svn.


The project was initiated by Russ Ferriday, Topia Systems Ltd, in November, 2008.

Thanks to ‘Business Across Borders’__ for sponsorship of this work.


Thanks to Zest Software and the van Rees brothers for FeedFeeder.

Contributions are welcome, and contributors are listed below:


0.1 - Unreleased

  • Initial release

Project details

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