It’s been running as a free web service for over eight years, from my little humble PHP script hacking in 2003. Feed2JS (http://feed2js.org/) provides a tool where anyone can enter a URL for an RSS feed, choose some options, and generate a bit of cut and paste JavaScript code they can use in their own web sites. Once in place, this provides a widget that is updated automatically as the RSS feed it refers to changes. The idea owes its origin to the early work of Stephen Downes in RSS and the model of a ASP script I found created by David Carter-Todd (who I hope to find when I get to Blacksburg)

In doing this, a lot of traffic is routed through the Feed2JS server. More than I may have even guessed. I developed this and ran it from 2003 to maybe 2005 on a server at the Maricopa Community Colleges, and then had been hosted for free at Modevia Web Services after a kind offer from Aaron Axelsen. I never even had to look at the web server for the last 6 years.

In September, I got an email from apparently the company that bought out Modevia (I had been alerted this was happening) letting me know that they would be shutting down the server. CUt off. They did provide me a few days leeway to set up a new server.

Now I jnow next to nothing about setting up web servers, but with some advice from The Twitter, set up a cloud based server at Rackspace. I got it going, but it was apparently not the most efficient set up, so Aaron kindly configured a new server.

The thing is it runs a lot of traffic, and I am paying by the Gb. In two weeks, it’s been about over 600 Gb of inbound and outbound traffic. The load crashed the server in week 1, and I had to double the RAM.

If it is any measure of usage, the cache directory is cleared daily, and registeres at least 1500 different feeds a day it is serving, meaning it is used on at least that many web sites.

At this rate, its going to cost me at least $200 just for hosting in September (for those who will chime in about their $15 ISP, keep in mind Feed2JS would choke in a shared server environment, it needs its own server).

I can’t afford to do this going forward, and unless something happens in the next few weeks, I am going to have to pull the plug on it end of October. I have set up a paypal donation form, and to date have collected about $70.

But it really needs a major sponsor or some organization to take it over. I’m not too invested in running a web service. But I hate to leave people hanging- when the light’s go out on the server, people’s web pages will spin as it tries to load a script that is not there.

It really is not the optimum set up that there is a single server; a set of distributed ones would make much more sense.

So this is what’s happening. I have placed a notice atop the Feed2JS site:

This leads to a web page I made to outline what I have written here, along when three possible futures (see http://feed2js.org/index.php?s=support).

  • Some generous benefactor is willing to cover the hosting costs. I am unwilling to inject advertising into the generated content, but there is no reason why this site could not be overt in recognizing this generosity.
  • Some organization is willing to take over the management. This would mean hosting and also developing a plan to perhaps distribute the load across multiple hosts, as well as to party on efforts to develop the site. I’d even be willing to give up all ownership if Feed2JS is continued as a free service. Make me an offer.
  • The free service goes away. I hate to see it happen, but this is a likely possibility. This would mean needing to find alternatives or look into installing your own local version- if you self host your web site, this is not that hard to do. See the Google Code site for all you need. I recommend this route anyhow as you will get much better performance from your own server.

Also, I was a bit reluctant to do this because it suggests a possibility of what some bad person could do with a server, in that I have modified the central script to append a small “please support Feed2JS” at the bottom of all calls to the script (yeah it reeks of advertising):

If you follow the link, it gives some info on how you can hide the nag message. It’s not really that tricky.

So why would you donate money if this might go away? I cant answer that either. I doubt a solution is running this on donations. But it would help me out in this lats stretch because IT”S COMING OUT OF MY POCKET and I DO NOT HAVE A JOB!

Better yet, if anyone has connections or ideas for some generous entity that would like to underwrite this or take it of my hands- please contact me ASAP.

I hate to kill Feed2JS, and frankly the code would remain available and open for anyone else to pick up and use/modify.

Please, help me find someone to adopt my little project.

Thanks.

Update: Sept 28 I am happy to report some generous donations came in last night, with a notable shout out to Anil Dash for his personal email. I am about 3/4 the way to covering costs for the next 2 months and have a nibble of interest from 2 sources.

The post "Red Alert for Feed2JS" was originally rescued from the bottom of a stangant pond at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2011/09/red-alert-for-feed2js/) on September 27, 2011.

16 Comments

  • D'Arcy Norman darcynorman.net

    I ran an open feed2js install on a ucalgary server, and had to lock it down because 99% of the feeds were being used by spammers. Casinos. Pharmacies. etc. etc… Do you have spammers hitting the main feed2js server as well? Not sure how to reign them in while still offering the VERY useful tool to people that don’t suck…

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      I dont look at the feeds (they are hard to examine in the form they are cached). Yeah, there might be spammers, but I get tons of emails from libraries, small companies, government agencies using it.

      I guess some registration could be made to be upfront before using the service; seems like overhead.

      This is why I need someone smarter to take this on; I am not good at implementations, I better like starting things….

    • Rio Frio

      My Hostgator install of feed2js is throwing 404 and other errors. What files in the feed2js directory need to have permissions set to anything other than 755?

  • Anders

    What about turning it into a pay per API call service? I run a service with a similar install base and subtract a small charge from pre-paid accounts. Once accunts reach zero, I include the link at the bottom again. If people don’t like the nag message, they charge up their prepay account.

  • A

    Hey,

    I (and my organization) may be interested in sponsoring/taking over management of the service. I wanted to email you but didn’t see an email on your site. If you could send me an email (mine is included in my comment profile), we can discuss this.

    Thanks!

  • The Road Ahead for Feed2JS - CogDogBlog cogdogblog.com/2011/10/06/road-ahead-feed2js

    […] has been beyond my expectations as a response to my call for help to keep Feed2JS going. I actually had never looked much to see where it was being used (D’Arcy would claim its […]

  • Freed and Free to Feed: Feed2JS - CogDogBlog cogdogblog.com/2011/11/22/freed-and-free-to-feed-feed2js

    […] put out a red alert as I could not see being able to pay for a dedicated server. Feed2JS generates so much traffic, […]

  • Paul Armstrong

    Hi there

    I noticed the server is ‘temporarily down’. Does this mean that the service is no longer provided? I used this fantastic feed on a couple of sites and its been no problem so far.

    I had just come across this post when searching for possible reasons why it could be down. How’s the search for sponsors going?

    Kind regards

    Paul Armstrong

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      I’m not aware of any long term outages of Feed2JS, I do have a monitor that notifies me when the server is not reachable. Are you still not able to access it?

      • Paul Armstrong

        Hi

        Yeah, feed2js.org, it just outs an error message:

        “503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
        cloudflare-nginx”

        My feeds are now just blank. Just assumed it was down for maintenance for the first few days.

  • Paul Armstrong

    What’s happening with feed2js Alan?

    It’s not been working for almost two weeks and I will have to start looking for alternate solutions for my projects if I can’t get any idea when/if it will be working again?

    An indication of when/if feed2js will be working again would be hugely appreciated.

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      I am not quite sure Paul. The outages are not everywhere, it seems to be a regional issue with the content distribution network we began using.

      I would suggest finding an alternative service anyhow; I am likely going to phase out the service by June and/or convert it to a fee based one. I cannot sustain support for a wide open one. The code is always free to download and install on your own server.

  • Rio Frio

    Should be 403 errors, sorry!

Leave a Comment

All fields are required. Your email address will not be published.