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Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Shyftr Filter

Recently, we have been developing a content filtering tool and today we are releasing two variations of it. The first is a collective filter and it can be viewed at:

View Filter

  • Filters can be run against terms within the Title, Author, and/or Article content. There are also a variety of conditions within each that you can set.
  • There are 44 sources this particular filter looks at.
  • You can remove and/or include any combination of the 44 sources for your filter result set. Select the Some Popular sources radio button to see a list of all the sources included in this filter.
  • For a quick result, check out the example filters on the right side of the page.
  • Pull an RSS feed of your filter results and we'll deliver the news to your reader (i.e. google reader, bloglines, myyahoo, etc.).
The second variation of the filter is for publishers. Publishers can now take our filter and offer it to their readers directly from their site. How does this work?
  • We will release invite codes to publishers starting today, and registration is very easy.
  • Once registered, add your source(s).
  • Create your own custom filters to distribute through your site.
  • Embed one of two (or both) widgets on your site.
  • Widget 1 (The Filter): Let your readers build custom filters against your content from your site.
  • Widget 2 (Filters you have created): Offer a widget of pre-built filters you create. The filters take readers directly into the RSS feed.
There are many features that we plan to build into this tool as we move forward. For example, the current release of the filter is our free version. In the future we plan to offer a premium option for those publishers that are interested. We also realize there are aspects of the tool that are missing at the moment, such as faqs, forgot password, welcome email, etc. We'll get them integrated shortly. This is an early release. If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, please reach out directly to us or submit feedback at:

Get Satisfaction

What does this mean for the current version of Shyftr?

We had to make the difficult decision to cease development on the current Shyftr product and devote our time, effort, and system resources to the filter. Starting today we have removed the ability to register new accounts. In 14 days we'll start removing unused accounts. If you don't use Shyftr but want to grab an OPML file of your feed list, please make sure you do that within the next 2 weeks. If you have been using Shyftr on a regular basis we'll keep your account active. The only change for people actively using Shyftr will be that we are going to move www.shyftr.com to old.shyftr.com as we make this transition. Please note that at some point in the not too distant future we're going to phase out the current version of Shyftr as well. We will provide reasonable notice beforehand.

Posted by Dave Stanley (Permanant Link to this post)  


Monday, October 20th, 2008

Activity Stream Updates

We rolled out some updates to the activity stream:

  1. Items display images for popular feeds:

  2. Comments:

  3. You can edit comments that you have previously made.

  4. Media enclosures have been added:

    Look for the View Media buttons.

Posted by Dave Stanley (Permanant Link to this post)  


Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The Shyftr API, Activity Stream, and Embeddable Widgets

Today marks a moment in time for us, one that we are very excited to share. Over the past few months we have been focusing very hard on our foundation so that Shyftr can be built in a way that successfully drives us into the future. During this period we have made some subtle updates, all of which were implemented to prepare for this moment.

Today we take one step closer to establishing the long term direction of our service. We are opening up our core features so that Shyftr content comes to you, and we are excited to share what we have been working so hard on developing the past few months: The Shyftr API, the Activity Stream, and Embeddable Widgets.

The Shyftr API

The API was and continues to be developed for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, we needed to build the API so that we could more effectively and more quickly build features. But the upside is far greater than that. The API is being used internally, and is integral in the development of the features that we are rolling out today. In the near term we are restricting access to the API for internal use and select partners. Although, at some point in the future we will make the API accessible publicly.

Shyftr handles a wealth of exciting and interesting content that we felt needed to be released. The API will enable our data to be used both to build features and tools within Shyftr, as well as features and tools for use outside of Shyftr. We plan on supporting just about every aspect of the service through the API, outside of reading feeds in the reader. The realization surrounding what can be built by leveraging this API is an extremely exciting thought, and we are looking forward to both the tools and features we release over the short term as well as the tools that 3rd party developers will want to build down the road.

Activity Stream

At the core of the Shyftr experience there are Pockets (shared items), Comments (discussing content), and Shyfts (adding new feeds). Previously, you would have to go to a friend or another person's profile to evaluate when they add new feeds, when they comment on content, and when they pocket items. We addressed pocketed items previously by building the pocket blog, allowing you to add an RSS feed to track when someone else pockets an item. But it was not ideal and we needed to address the bigger dilemma.

It is imperative that people's actions are pushed to you so that you do not have to seek them out. Shyftr is about sharing. Sharing feeds, sharing items, and discussing content within shared conversations. So with that in mind, an activity stream was born. An activity stream that shows when someone shyfts a feed, pockets an item, and comments on a piece of content. An activity stream that delivers this content to you.

The activity stream can be filtered in a few ways. You can view and interact with any combination of these 3 pieces of content: comments, pockets, and shyfts. The green dot signifies that the content is on and loaded into the stream, and the red dot signifies that the content is turned off and withheld from appearing in the stream.

You can also filter who you want to view in the activity stream:

Everyone's activity
My Friends Activity
My Activity
or by clicking a username within any activity stream you can see their specific activity.

When you are looking at an activity stream, you can engage it by pocketing items you would like to share, shyft feeds of interest, and comment within conversations that interest you.

(note: If your privacy settings are set to private, your pockets and shyfts will not appear anywhere within any activity stream besides your own, which only you will be able to view.)

The activity stream is core to the social aspects of what Shyftr represents. And this is just the beginning. As we move into the future, it is important that we highlight the wealth of activity that underpins the service. So with that in mind, we thank the Popular page for time well served, and welcome the Shyftr activity stream. The Popular page will be phased out and the Shyftr activity stream will become our new home page. We want to hear what everyone thinks, as this will help us to shape the future of the stream and how we will continue to develop it.

Embedabble Widgets

The embeddable widgets are an example of how we leveraged our API to build tools that re-distribute Shyftr content. The embeddable widgets come in 3 forms (all containing pockets, comments, and shyfts) and can be customized in a variety of ways.

Your Activity Stream - this widget allows you to embed your activity in shyftr and place it on another site.
Feed Activity Stream - any action associated with a specific feed can be customized and embedded back to that publisher's site. This stream includes posts along with shyfts, pockets, and comments.
Shyftr Activity Stream - the Shyftr activity stream can be used to show all the activity happening within Shyftr.

The following example is a feed activity widget:

What This All Means

A few months ago we realized that in order to develop Shyftr's social features over the long term and develop them quickly, building the API was critical. We could have continued down the path we were on, but eventually it would have become a roadblock. Instead, we have opened many doors. Our vision has never changed. Building a social feed reader and content aggregator is a deep passion of ours and there are many variables - a couple being the reader experience and the social experience. We have spent a lot of effort on the reader and we will continue to do so. With the development of our API we have established a direction we can take the social aspects of Shyftr over the long haul. A direction we can use to help fulfill our vision. Today we are excited to roll out the results of this hard work, the direction this takes us, and all the great features and tools that will come of it. We hope you do as well, and we are looking forward to hearing your questions, comments, and thoughts.

Posted by Dave Stanley (Permanant Link to this post)  


Friday, May 30th, 2008

Notice: System Changes and New Implementations

Over the past few weeks we've been trying to stay on top of the site performance. Having the site run and perform at a high level is something that we will relentlessly work towards achieving. The nature of the service will force us to continue analyzing how we handle our data. With that in mind, we are going to make some fundamental changes that may or may not affect your Shyftr usage.

The first measure we will implement will be to track numbers only dating back one month. If you are a daily or even occassional user, this most likely will not affect you. A month is a long time when it comes to near realtime access to information. If you don't use your account for more than a month, this does not mean that you will not have any numbers. It just means that your numbers will only date back a months worth of content per feed. When this implementation takes place it will take a few hours for the system to cycle through, and the new number tracking will be a permanent implementation - not a one time sweep.

It's important for us to do this because there is a database that is growing at such a rapid pace, effectively dragging down the performance and experience for everyone. We initially thought it would be nice for people to have the ability to go back and look through old content, but it's becoming clear that this is not important to users. Shyftr is being used as a near realtime content discovery and sharing tool, and we cannot sacrifice the performance of the site for a growing database that is rarely being tapped. Once we rollout the new way of handling numbers, we will remove a substantial portion of backdated data. This should alleviate much of the poor performance that we have been experiencing over the past few weeks, and possibly allow us to re-implement features that have been temporarily disabled (such as search). At the same time there may be some new features that come out of this. In the end, we will continue to evolve and enhance the user experience. It's time we trim some fat while making the system leaner, more efficient, and better prepared for future growth.

As we head down this path, we are looking forward to hearing any and all feedback you may have for us.

Posted by Dave Stanley (Permanant Link to this post)  


Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Numbers Reporting

Over the weekend we made an adjustment to how we handle feeds and this caused a duplication of items that were already in the system. As a result, numbers were appearing for items that you may have already read. We sincerely apologize for this and hope it does not cause too much of an inconvenience. If you would like to quickly resolve what occurred, mark all your feeds as read and they will start tracking normally again.

Posted by Dave Stanley (Permanant Link to this post)  


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