Ideas For a New and Improved PlanetMySQL

I continue to work on figuring out why some feed entries aren’t making it into the PlanetMySQL aggregated feed database. Even with all the logging printouts I’ve added, some feeds continue to get left out; I’m not sure if it is a Magpie caching issue or not, but that’s the first place I’m going to examine. In the meantime, if you know your feed entries are not making it into the planet feed, please shoot the community team an email at community at mysql dot com and let us know the details of the feed so that we can diagnose the issues.

While working on the planet code, I started thinking about ways that we can improve the PlanetMySQL website and functionality. One of the most frequent issues that I hear come up is the sheer volume of items that get aggregated by PlanetMySQL (when it’s working correctly of course… 😉 ) and the fact that some folks just don’t care about certain blog entries and wish there was a way to filter out the categories of entries that they don’t really care much about.

I think this is a valid concern, and I’ve begun to think about ways to organize PlanetMySQL’s content so that subscribers can filter their feed the way they want. I’ve come up with two ideas that I’m looking for some input on:

Idea #1: PlanetMySQL Feed Channels

Here, I’m envisioning segmenting the Planet feed entries into a number of fixed categories, such as “Announcements and Release Notes”, “Open Source Business”, “Technical Articles”, etc.

Some people love to read Zack‘s entries about disruption in the software industry, or Matt Asay‘s commentary about the ongoing trends in open source. Others, however, want only to get the in-depth performance tuning articles from Peter Zaitsev or Baron Schwartz‘ great multi-day entries covering a variety of MySQL topics. The channel method would set up separate feeds that could be filtered based on a blog domain, a regex of the article content, or some FULLTEXT matching.

This idea has a lot of merit I think, but it’s limitation is that the channel would have to predefined using specific criteria, and would not have the advantage of being a more flexible solution such as Idea #2 for having tag-based feeds.

Idea #2: User-Driven Tag-Based Feeds

In this method of dividing up the feed content, I’m envisioning a simple form where a subscriber could essentially create their own customized feed which matches for any of a set of user-defined tags. Content would be filtered by matching the user-defined tags with the title and body of the blog entry. A user could set up as many custom feeds as they wanted, with the custom filter being stored on the server and the subscriber would just point their reader to, say,

This method has the advantage of potentially unlimited flexibility to define custom feeds, but has the drawback of being slightly more complex to implement.

Other Ideas for Improvement

Here’s a list of other ideas I’ve had to improve the PlanetMySQL functionality. Let me know what you think of them:

  • Implementing OPML feeds into the Planet framework
  • A rating system where subscribers can rate planet entries
  • Allowing the MySQL community to fully manage the adding, editing, and removing of content via an open administrative console.