Channel reports

Channel reports provide a flexible way to get an overview of the current state of one or more channels. To use them effectively, you need to know how channel filters work. Once you've grokked that section, open the Channel reports dialog from the View menu. There you will see several reports that have been set up for you already.

Report configuration is fairly straight-forward. First, you choose a channel filter that controls which channels will be included in the report. Then you can specify which feed items should be included (all of them, only new ones or only unread ones).

A template file can be specified that controls how the report is formatted. If you don't specify one, the DefaultChannelReport.template file in your user's home directory will be used. This produces a simple HTML page listing the selected items for each channel that matches the controlling filter. We will talk shortly about some of the other templates provided.

You can also control where the report is stored. By default a temporary file is used and the report shown in a new window. However, you may sometimes not want to see the report but instead just save it somewhere (as in the My Blogroll example discussed below). In this case, just specify where the report should be saved and uncheck the "Show results" option.

Finally, you can request that reports be automatically be regenerated at regular intervals. This is most useful for keeping your blogroll or PDA export page up-to-date, described in the next section.

Report templates

Several different report templates are provided that produce reports in a variety of formats. While the default template produces a simple HTML summary page, ExportOpml.template lets you export your channel subscriptions in OPML.

MyBlogroll.template is another format that produces a snippet of HTML suitable for inclusion in your blog. One of the reports that will have been set up for you filters your channels by the "My Blogroll" category, generates the report using this template and stores the output in the Reports directory. In fact, if you configure this report to be automatically regenerated, you won't have to do a thing to keep your blogroll up-to-date. Simply make sure that the channels you want included are assigned to the "My Blogroll" category and Awasu will run this report periodically, saving the results wherever you specify. All you have to do is pick up the output and include it in your blog. Simple!

The same thing applies if you use a PDA for reading content offline. CompactChannelReport.template produces a minimal report suitable for use by a program such as Plucker that can use it as a starting point for retrieving content and transferring it to your PDA. Again, if the report is automatically kept up-to-date by Awasu, all you will have to do is point Plucker to the report file and tell it to start!

Meta-channels

Meta-channels (channels that contain the aggregated content of several other channels) is something that has been on the to-do list for a while. And it still is :-) But in the meantime, creative use of channel reports will let you have something that's almost as good.

First, create a report as per normal, choosing a filter to control which channels to include and which items you want. For the template file, select MetaChannel.template which will produce a report that is in RSS. Make sure that the output is stored at a specified location (a .xml extension is recommended) and the report auto-generated hourly.

Next, start the Channel Wizard and enter the path to the report file, using the file:// protocol. In other words, if the report is being stored in C:\TEMP\META.XML, the URL you want to enter in the wizard is FILE://C:\TEMP\META.XML. This instructs Awasu to retrieve the RSS feed directly from a file instead of getting it from the Internet.

Now what will happen is that Awasu will regenerate the report every hour and save it in the specified file. Then when the channel updates, it reads the latest report from that file (as RSS) and shows you the feed in exactly the same way as it would any other channel!

The only caveat with this is that if you happen to see new items arrive on one of the aggregated channels and go to update the meta-channel, you will probably not see them in the meta-channel. This is because the report needs to be regenerated first, before the meta-channel is updated (which is reading its feed from that report file). These things will eventually be done in the background by Awasu and so, as always, best results will be obtained if you just leave Awasu to do its job and don't try to fiddle with things yourself :-)

Meta-channels work really well with the SendEmail hook. Just create a meta-channel to include the channels you are interested in and configure it to send you an email when new items item are found i.e. when new items arrive on any of the aggregated channels.

Back to 1.0.3 release notes