SLE: News Feed Viewer

An important element of the university’s current learning environment, SUSSED, is the noticeboard. This is a compilation of news and important announcements from a variety of departments. As a result (and as can be seen from the screenshot below), this means the announcements are not always relevant to every student – this was brought up in several focus group meetings.

To remedy this, one of the widgets in development is a news feed viewer which will initially contain a set of default feeds that are relevant to each student – for example, based of the school (and possibly the societies) they are a member of. This idea was translated to a series of Pencil wireframes and HTML mockups to give a starting point for the actual coding.

Important university announcements (such as campus closures) should of course be always visible, but if all other feeds could be added or removed by users at will this would make for a much more personalised portal. However, after programming a first draft of the widget an interesting problem was encountered.

As can be seen above, all of the news feeds from the university cannot be rendered, despite external feeds rendering with no problems at all. Further investigation, using an online Feed Validator revealed that all of the university’s news feeds do not comply with RSS standards (due to the formatting of the published date).

This leads to the tough decision of which would be the simpler to fix: standardising all of the university’s RSS feeds, or re-writing the code at the base of the widget to compensate!

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