Thursday, August 28, 2008

RSS Notification

As we've been upgrading our toolsets at work, we're slowly getting to a point where various pieces of infrastructure offer RSS feeds. These feeds provide notifications of source-control check-ins, build successes and failures, etc. The key word here is "notitficaitons". These are not news feeds in the traditional sense where articles and synopses are disseminated. Rather, these are momentary notices of events.

I began a search for an RSS reader that could act as more of a notification alert system. However, every RSS reader I found wanted to be embedded in your browser, or run as a full-screen in your face application akin to an e-mail application or NNTP news reader. They tend to offer three-pane views, in-application reading, etc. They didn't feel right.

Then I found AlertBear. The authors believe "that RSS is not email, feeds should simply wash by, commonly called the "river of news"". Now that sounds more like it! AlertBear delivers on its promise. It quietly sits in your tray, polling your RSS feeds at a customizable interval. When a new item appears, a color-coded toaster (or stack of toasters) unobtrusively slides into the corner of the screen with the headline. A quick click can open it, discard it, or hide it until later.

I'm now using AlertBear at work to monitor the Hudson builds or our projects that I'm interested in. I soon will monitor checkins to specific SVN project folders via Sventon. Then I plan to have our server start/stop scripts contribute to an RSS feed so people can subscribe to individual server events.

All-in-all, I'm very satisfied. I did have to hack the registry since the AlertBear settings UI won't let you poll more frequently than 30 minutes as a polite courtesy to feed hosters because the private corp of developers who will consume these feeds is manageable.

Hats off to the developers of AlertBear!


Unknown said...

Can you tell me where in the registry you had to make this change? This is exactly what I'm trying to do with Alertbear to read from an internal live RSS feed.

walt said...

I would also like to know how changed the interval for Alertbear! It is an amazing application but useless with the 30 minute interval...

Trinition said...

The registry path is:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Square Eight\Alertbear\Settings

The name is "RSSFrequency" and its value is a hex DWORD representing minutes (the default is 0x1e = 30 min). I've changed it to as little as 5, although I've personally rolled mine back to 30 because I'm no longer monitoring my CI system through it.