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SimplePie 0.93 is now available. This release adds support for RSS and Atom auto-discovery, converting relative-to-the-root URL’s into absolute URL’s (like web browsers do), an improved caching process, and a variety of fixes to aid compatibility with poorly written feeds.

SimplePie takes a very Apple-esque approach to feed parsing. Coming from the use of MagpieRSS, I decided to create a “feed parser for the rest of us”. One that is easy, logical, and doesn’t require too much of a background in PHP to use it. My background is in JavaScript, so I believe that if you have a handle on JavaScript and can spend an hour learning about some of the nuances of basic PHP, you should be able to implement SimplePie with little or no fuss.

There are many feed parsers out there that only support one or two flavors of RSS. Most still don’t even have Atom support yet. They all go through and create this whole big array, and then just leave it all sitting there for you to figure out. Maybe they’ll even throw in some caching while they’re at it. Good for them.

When building SimplePie, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for someone to be able to use it. I looked at a variety of desktop and web-based feed readers to get a feel for the most used and most useful RSS tags, and then I created a collection of functions for those specific purposes. Going with a Firefox-like mentality, I made sure to support everything that most people would want/need while maintaining the ability to extend it as need be.

As Mac OS X is built upon a powerful Unix-based core, SimplePie is built upon a very powerful, yet easy-to-use XML parsing library called XMLize. XMLize takes a fantastic approach to parsing XML documents in a very simple, logical way. I was parsing XML documents within 10 minutes of having found it. This easy-to-use software makes it easy for anyone — even PHP newbies — to extend the power of SimplePie.

Switching from MagpieRSS to using XMLize at the core allows SimplePie to process RSS and Atom feeds at incredible speeds. SimplePie is also aware of some common problems in feeds and makes adjustments as necessary. Does your current feed reader leave you with visible entities or odd question marks? SimplePie automatically handles some of these common glitches, so that the end user doesn’t see anything too wierd when trying to view their favorite feeds.

If you’re looking for new feed parser software, or even if you’re not, give SimplePie a try. If you’re new to PHP, or even if you’re not, SimplePie can save you time and stress. If you’re looking for a feed parser that can be easily extended to do more than it currently does out-of-the-box, SimplePie is your answer.

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Ryan Parman

is an engineering manager with over 20 years of experience across software development, site reliability engineering, and security. He is the creator of SimplePie and AWS SDK for PHP, patented multifactor-authentication-as-a-service at WePay, defined much of the CI/CD and SRE disciplines at McGraw-Hill Education, and came up with the idea of “serverless, event-driven, responsive functions in the cloud” while at Amazon Web Services in 2010. Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than . Ambivert. Curious. Not a coffee drinker.