Grazr Feed Aggregator


Thanks to Kristin Hokanson for introducing me to Grazr.  I just got around to experimenting with it today and I’m really impressed with its functionality and ease of use.

Here is some quick background on this useful feed aggregator.

[I also published this on my cliotech blog.]

What is Grazr?

Grazr is a free publishing tool for feeds. It lets you quickly and easily display RSS, RDF, Atom, and OPML files on any Web page so they can be viewed by any visitor to the site.

Grazr is written in Javascript, so no software download or installation is necessary for someone to view it in a browser. As long as Javascript is enabled, it can be used in any modern Web browser.


Why is the service called Grazr?

In February, 2006 a number of bloggers were trying to describe the experience of reading blogs through a collection of interrelated outlines.

James Corbett (http://eirepreneur.blogs.com/) introduced the idea of "grazing" through feeds without subscribing to them. Grazr was created as a way to make grazing the world of feeds as simple and convenient as possible.

Grazer.com was already registered, but Grazr.com was available. So in true Web 2.0 fashion we decided to name the program Grazr. Hey, it was meant to be ironic.

I tried out Grazr this morning just to create a widget of my blog feeds for my wiki.  Users can customize the widget’s size and appearance.  Though I only pulled one feed into the wiki’s widget, I could just as easily have aggregated more (note example below).  The Java script can be customized for specific destinations: Blogger, Facebook, MySpace, Typepad, WordPress, Pageflakes, Netvibes, Live, LiveJournal, and [I'm jealous even typing this] your iPhone. 

If you find that you particularly like someone else’s Grazr widget, you can copy their code and embed it onto your site as well.  Talk about open source information!

This would be a great way to aggregate numerous feeds to embed as one or multiple widgets onto a class blog, wiki, or other web site.  Schools could even aggregate all their faculty feeds to post onto their main site to make it more dynamic.  It would be cool to surf to a school’s web site and see all their 7th grade blogs, 8th grade podcasts, etc. aggregated into separate Grazr widgets for easy access.  Teachers can create Grazr widgets with current events feeds using RSS news services. 

What I really like about Grazr is that it takes the "pagecasting" functionality of Pageflakes or Netvibes and allows users to integrate it into their existing web locales.  One thing that I often find frustrating is that I keeps finding cool new applications, but am not willing to abandon the online structures I already have in place.  Grazr is one application that allows me to maintain my class blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc. in their current form, yet also connect them and make them more engaging by integrating outside content.

Take the GrazrScript tutorial to learn more about customizing this application and creating interactive add-ons for your blog, wiki, or other site.

I know that many of you reading this entry also surf the Twitterverse . . . You’ll love Grazr’s Twitter Reader Application.  I am still in the process of trying to figure out how all of this works . . . but, I thought I’d share it with all of you.  Maybe, some of you have already used this Grazr add-on and would like to share your experiences???

The Grazr Twitter Reader is the first tool that makes it easy to browse a social graph starting with any individual Twitter user. You really can see how many degrees of separation there are between any two people. While browsing through a network of friends, you can see all the messages they see from their perspective.

The Grazr Twitter Reader is built on an open API, which means that you can call the individual components used by the reader directly. Each of the API calls accepts a Twitter username and returns either an RSS feed or OPML as indicated:

  • Top level OPML. http://app.grazr.com/api/twitter/reader/[username]
    Returns an OPML file with profile information for the user, and nodes for their timelines, friends network, and a search form for other networks of friends. Any user that has an account on Twittergram.com will also be given a feed node listing their Twittergrams. ( sample )
  • Top level OPML without search. http://app.grazr.com/api/twitter//friends_nosearch/[username]
    Returns an OPML file for the user with all information, but without the search form. ( sample )
  • Friends OPML. http://app.grazr.com/api/twitter/lriends_list/[username]
    Returns an OPML file with one folder for each person the user is following. The Twitter API restricts this to a maximum of 100 people. ( sample )
  • User timeline. http://app.grazr.com/api/twitter/user_timeline/[username]
    Returns an RSS file with the most recent posts by that user. Note: The Twitter API sometimes limits this to just the most recent post when traffic on the site is heavy. ( sample )
  • Friends timeline. http://app.grazr.com/api/twitter/friends_timeline/[username]
    Returns an RSS file with the most recent posts by that user and the people being followed.  ( sample )

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