I’ve done my fair share of railing against entities that destroy web sites, be it Wikispaces, Storify, Google… today is my turn to be the reaper.
As far as I can tell, Feed2JS my long running web service that enabled ordinary humans to insert dynamic RSS feed content into web pages, is kaput. I’ve been unable to diagnose, but it seems to be an issue with cURL command inside the MagpieRSS parser library. This PHP code was released in 2004, so its startling it worked this long.
This all started in 2003 with a bit of hacking of an idea done first by David Carter-Todd in ASP, and first known as RSS2JS (here is the oldest snag Oct 2003 from the Wayback Machine). It predates thos blog, I have some early posts from May 2003 when I was first working on this.
I ran it for a decade on an Apple server at my office in Maricopa, but then it needed to move when I left my job there, and I had one volunteer take it one for a while (sorry I forget who and this is inside CogDog baseball).
The thing is the site has been running since 2013 on a server set up by a nice guy in Maryland named Brian Teller. I’ve been unable to reach him in any channels (yuck, I even slimed into LinkedIn); no response to emails, his twitter and facebook are gone. I don’t have ftp access to the server, so I cannot even post an update, or change the output to provide a message.
As of now, it means any web pages that include it will either have blank spots or just long stalls.
The thing is the domain renewal comes up on June 30. I was going to let it go, but maybe I will renew it and take the site back so I can post a proper post mortem. Just need to see if it will kill my hosting service!
15 years of free service is a pretty damn long web run.
I was really ready to just let it go and leave the tattered web, but it bothers me to do the thing I complain about– break the web. I’ve written much about the web being a fabric and we ought to take care of the tatters we weave.
So just in the process of writing this, I have decided to see what I can do about preserving the site, even if the code no longer works.
If anyone has the chops to help figure out the problems with the code (besides it being old and sloppy 1990s learning PHP code), grab a copy from GitHub. The test parser works, so it seems to be another issue, maybe with https feeds which were not much of a thing then.
Okay, no funeral today.
I will not be part of the web breaking.
Featured Image: Generated from the Custom Tombstone Maker edited to include the Feed2JS logo I made myself. Call it public domain!
Thanks for the update Alan. I wonder if there’s any way to figure out if I still have anything using or trying to use the service, he idly wondered…
Whatever the bug is, it’s specific to PHP 7 if that helps in any case. I used Feed2JS code to drive a particular Site Publisher template called Clean Feed. I can confirm for a domain running PHP 5.6 it still works, but PHP 7 is the default now (and soon PHP 7.2) in our environment. I wonder if knowing that would make it easier to debug. Now as to whether it is sustainable to run it as its own service still or not is a question bigger than I can answer and would probably require knowledge you don’t have about what the hosting burden has been the past few years. Would be worth a shot…we could at least donate a clean cPanel account so you’re not mucking with your personal stuff.
Well that didn’t take long, found the two bugs thanks to PHP error logs and sent you a pull request.
Damn, you are good.
I’m still having issues with feeds from WordPress sites; getting a Failed to Fetch Feed because it is getting an HTTP Redirect (from the htaccess rules??). Trying to decipher the magpie code.
Thanks for the offer! I will take you up on it. If traffic is too much, we can remove the serice and just return a “Goodnight Web” response
If you haven’t seen the issue at GitHub and fixed your problem, commenting out lines 631 and 632 of Snoopy.class.inc sorts things. Snoopy insists on adding the port number to the Host: header, WordPress objects and redirects to the portless version, Snoopy adds it back, redirect, boom.
Thanks, I will dust of my memory and try some tests with this. I was poking around the Glitch repo for this issue and could not find it, got a link?
Hopefully the signs of life in the comment thread will come good.
I’ve used Feed2JS a few times in the past and has proved very useful. I often recommended it to folk, most recently in the last couple of months.
Hi, firstly thank you so much for the service you have provided over many years. I use feed2js on my site for xml feeds and it’s been great… until the last few days obviously! Any update on whether it can rise from the dead? Or should I look elsewhere? And are you saying that even if we run the php ourselves it will not work on anything over php 5.6? Thanks again for this great little tool.
Sorry for the interruption. I am hoping to find a workable host, or revert it to where it was. I think we sorted the PHP 7 issues, it should work standalone.
Yay! You got it working again! : )
Thanks so much. Seriously. Really appreciate the time and effort to raise this puppy up from its grave.
First, thanks to Alan and Brian (wherever he might be) for providing the service for so long!
I’ve been using feed2js with a little news webapp that I made for old smartphones (Palms and BlackBerries), and it’s been humming along for years.
When the site went down, I remembered that the files were on Github, and set up my own instance (which was as simple as unzipping the files in a directory on my webserver). The instance is restricted to interactions with my own site (If I remember correctly, I’d be violating my TOS of my free web hosting if I opened up feed2js to third parties) and I deleted almost all of the front/end files, because I don’t need them.
Based on the feedback here, my web hosting service must still be using PHP 5.x. I’ll update the code if/when it breaks again.
Kudos to those who found the fix!
Just to be clear, I hardly fixed anything, I just reverted the domain back to the web site that seems to work for y’all. But I have no access to update, but will do my best to contact Brian Teller.