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morss
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README.md
main.py
requirements.txt
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README.md

Morss - Get full-text RSS feeds

This tool's goal is to get full-text RSS feeds out of striped RSS feeds, commonly available on internet. Indeed most newspapers only make a small description available to users in their rss feeds, which makes the RSS feed rather useless. So this tool intends to fix that problem.

This tool opens the links from the rss feed, then downloads the full article from the newspaper website and puts it back in the rss feed.

Morss also provides additional features, such as: .csv and json export, extended control over output. A strength of morss is its ability to deal with broken feeds, and to replace tracking links with direct links to the actual content.

Morss can also generate feeds from html and json files (see feedify.py), which for instance makes it possible to get feeds for Facebook or Twitter, using hand-written rules (ie. there's no automatic detection of links to build feeds). Please mind that feeds based on html files may stop working unexpectedly, due to html structure changes on the target website.

Additionally morss can grab the source xml feed of iTunes podcast, and detect rss feeds in html pages' <meta>.

You can use this program online for free at morss.it (there's also a test version).

Dependencies

You do need:

Simplest way to get these:

pip install -r requirements.txt

You may also need:

  • Apache, with python-cgi support, to run on a server
  • a fast internet connection

GPL3 code.

Arguments

morss accepts some arguments, to lightly alter the output of morss. Arguments may need to have a value (usually a string or a number). In the different "Use cases" below is detailed how to pass those arguments to morss.

The arguments are:

  • Change what morss does
    • json: output as JSON
    • proxy: doesn't fill the articles
    • clip: stick the full article content under the original feed content (useful for twitter)
    • keep: by default, morss does drop feed description whenever the full-content is found (so as not to mislead users who use Firefox, since the latter only shows the description in the feed preview, so they might believe morss doens't work), but with this argument, the description is kept
    • search=STRING: does a basic case-sensitive search in the feed
  • Advanced
    • csv: export to csv
    • md: convert articles to Markdown
    • indent: returns indented XML or JSON, takes more place, but human-readable
    • nolink: drop links, but keeps links' inner text
    • noref: drop items' link
    • cache: only take articles from the cache (ie. don't grab new articles' content), so as to save time
    • debug: to have some feedback from the script execution. Useful for debugging
    • mono: disable multithreading while fetching, makes debugging easier
    • theforce: force download the rss feed and ignore cached http errros
    • silent: don't output the final RSS (useless on its own, but can be nice when debugging)
    • encoding=ENCODING: overrides the encoding auto-detection of the crawler. Some web developers did not quite understand the importance of setting charset/encoding tags correctly...
  • http server only
    • callback=NAME: for JSONP calls
    • cors: allow Cross-origin resource sharing (allows XHR calls from other servers)
    • html: changes the http content-type to html, so that python cgi erros (written in html) are readable in a web browser
    • txt: changes the http content-type to txt (for faster "view-source:")
  • Custom feeds: you can turn any HTML page into a RSS feed using morss, using xpath rules. The article content will be fetched as usual (with readabilite). Please note that you will have to replace any / in your rule with a | when using morss as a webserver
    • items: (mandatory to activate the custom feeds function) xpath rule to match all the RSS entries
    • item_link: xpath rule relative to items to point to the entry's link
    • item_title: entry's title
    • item_content: entry's description
    • item_time: entry's date & time (accepts a wide range of time formats)
  • Completely useless
    • strip: remove all description and content from feed items
    • empty: remove all feed items

Use cases

morss will auto-detect what "mode" to use.

Running on a server

Via mod_cgi/FastCGI with Apache/nginx

For this, you'll want to change a bit the architecture of the files, for example into something like this.

/
├── cgi
│   │
│   ├── main.py
│   ├── morss
│   │   ├── __init__.py
│   │   ├── __main__.py
│   │   ├── morss.py
│   │   └── ...
│   │
│   ├── dateutil
│   └── ...
│
├── .htaccess
├── index.html
└── ...

For this, you need to make sure your host allows python script execution. This method uses HTTP calls to fetch the RSS feeds, which will be handled through mod_cgi for example on Apache severs.

Please pay attention to main.py permissions for it to be executable. Also ensure that the provided /www/.htaccess works well with your server.

Using uWSGI

Running this command should do:

uwsgi --http :9090 --plugin python --wsgi-file main.py

However, one problem might be how to serve the provided index.html file if it isn't in the same directory. Therefore you can add this at the end of the command to point to another directory --pyargv '--root ../../www/'.

Using morss' internal HTTP server

Morss can run its own HTTP server. The later should start when you run morss without any argument, on port 8080.

You can change the port and the location of the www/ folder like this python -m morss 9000 --root ../../www.

Passing arguments

Then visit: http://PATH/TO/MORSS/[main.py/][:argwithoutvalue[:argwithvalue=value[...]]]/FEEDURL
For example: http://morss.example/:clip/https://twitter.com/pictuga
(Brackets indicate optional text)

The main.py part is only needed if your server doesn't support the Apache redirect rule set in the provided .htaccess.

Works like a charm with Tiny Tiny RSS, and most probably other clients.

As a CLI application

Run: python[2.7] -m morss [argwithoutvalue] [argwithvalue=value] [...] FEEDURL
For example: python -m morss debug http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/rss.xml
(Brackets indicate optional text)

As a newsreader hook

To use it, the newsreader Liferea is required (unless other newsreaders provide the same kind of feature), since custom scripts can be run on top of the RSS feed, using its output as an RSS feed.

To use this script, you have to enable "(Unix) command" in liferea feed settings, and use the command: [python2.7] PATH/TO/MORSS/main.py [argwithoutvalue] [argwithvalue=value] [...] FEEDURL
For example: python2.7 PATH/TO/MORSS/main.py http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/rss.xml
(Brackets indicate optional text)

As a python library

Quickly get a full-text feed:

>>> import morss
>>> xml_string = morss.process('http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/rss.xml')
>>> xml_string[:50]
"<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>\n<?xml-style"

Using cache and passing arguments:

>>> import morss
>>> url = 'http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/rss.xml'
>>> cache = '/tmp/morss-cache.db' # sqlite cache location
>>> options = {'csv':True, 'md':True}
>>> xml_string = morss.process(url, cache, options)
>>> xml_string[:50]
'{"title": "BBC News - Home", "desc": "The latest s'

morss.process is actually a wrapper around simpler function. It's still possible to call the simpler functions, to have more control on what's happening under the hood.

Doing it step-by-step:

import morss, morss.crawler

url = 'http://newspaper.example/feed.xml'
options = morss.Options(csv=True, md=True) # arguments
morss.crawler.sqlite_default = '/tmp/morss-cache.db' # sqlite cache location

rss = morss.FeedFetch(url, options) # this only grabs the RSS feed
rss = morss.FeedGather(rss, url, options) # this fills the feed and cleans it up

output = morss.Format(rss, options) # formats final feed

Cache information

morss uses a small cache directory to make the loading faster. Given the way it's designed, the cache doesn't need to be purged each while and then, unless you stop following a big amount of feeds. Only in the case of mass un-subscribing, you might want to delete the cache files corresponding to the bygone feeds. If morss is running as a server, the cache folder is at MORSS_DIRECTORY/cache/, and in $HOME/.cache/morss otherwise.

Configuration

Length limitation

When parsing long feeds, with a lot of items (100+), morss might take a lot of time to parse it, or might even run into a memory overflow on some shared hosting plans (limits around 10Mb), in which case you might want to adjust the different values at the top of the script.

  • MAX_TIME sets the maximum amount of time spent fetching articles, more time might be spent taking older articles from cache. -1 for unlimited.
  • MAX_ITEM sets the maximum number of articles to fetch. -1 for unlimited. More articles will be taken from cache following the nexts settings.
  • LIM_TIME sets the maximum amount of time spent working on the feed (whether or not it's already cached). Articles beyond that limit will be dropped from the feed. -1 for unlimited.
  • LIM_ITEM sets the maximum number of article checked, limiting both the number of articles fetched and taken from cache. Articles beyond that limit will be dropped from the feed, even if they're cached. -1 for unlimited.

Other settings

  • DELAY sets the browser cache delay, only for HTTP clients
  • TIMEOUT sets the HTTP timeout when fetching rss feeds and articles
  • THREADS sets the number of threads to use. 1 makes no use of multithreading.

Content matching

The content of articles is grabbed with our own readability fork. This means that most of the time the right content is matched. However sometimes it fails, therefore some tweaking is required. Most of the time, what has to be done is to add some "rules" in the main script file in readability (not in morss).

Most of the time when hardly nothing is matched, it means that the main content of the article is made of images, videos, pictures, etc., which readability doesn't detect. Also, readability has some trouble to match content of very small articles.

morss will also try to figure out whether the full content is already in place (for those websites which understood the whole point of RSS feeds). However this detection is very simple, and only works if the actual content is put in the "content" section in the feed and not in the "summary" section.


Todo

You can contribute to this project. If you're not sure what to do, you can pick from this list: