About Meerkat

What is Meerkat?
Meerkat is a Web-based syndicated content reader. It is based on RDF Site Summary (RSS), an XML specification used for distributing news, product announcements, discussion threads, and other assorted content as channels. Meerkat provides a simple interface to these stories. While maintaining the original association of a story with a channel, Meerkat's focus is on chronological order -- the latest stories float to the top, regardless of their source.

Tell Me More About RSS...
RSS was developed by Netscape in 1999 as a way of drawing in content from the Web for use in it's My Netscape Network portal. It was later extended by Netscape and Dave Winer of My Userland fame.

For an introduction to RSS, take a gander at the these excellent articles:

Here are a few more RSS resources:

Why Meerkat?
Meerkat borrows its name from the Southern African Meerkats, members of the mongoose family. Meerkats, being rather low on the food chain, have to be mighty careful when going about their daily business -- someone always stands guard, scanning the horizon for anything that moves. With the wealth of information flowing through the Internet, we're like Meerkats ourselves, trying desperately to take in everything that floats past our field of view; invariably the particular nugget of information we most need won't come anywhere near where we're looking.

Meerkat brings the stories you care about to a central location, saving you from all that annoying site-hopping. Now you can go on with your daily business knowing that someone is scanning the horizon for you.

How Does Meerkat Work?
Meerkat maintains a list of channels it's come across in a database. Every hour, Meerkat visits the RSS file associated with each channel, adding new stories -- those as yet unseen by Meerkat -- to the database.

The Meerkat front end, building a query using your specified preferences, searches the story database for matches, displaying them for your reading pleasure.

Meerkat's back-end is written in Perl, and utilizes the following modules: LWP::UserAgent DBI, DBD::mysql, and XML::Simple The front-end is written in PHP, version 3.x. Meerkat is served up by an Apache Web server, and keeps its data in a MySQL database.

Are There Any Other Such Readers?
Yes indeed; Meerkat's focus is on a chronological flow of stories of interest to developers, programmers, Web designers, Intranet/Extranet administrators -- those who turn to O'Reilly for their books and The O'Reilly Network for news and content.

Netscape's My Netscape Network, the originator of RSS, provides a great start page organized along channel lines. Customize your page by adding and removing channels at will.

Dave Winer's wonderful My.Userland.Com is more broadly focused, bringing in content from WebLogs hosted at Userland and EditThisPage.Com, a growing community of Manila websites.

Other Meerkats
For further information on Meerkats (the creature, that is), point your browser at:

Suggestions, Bug Reports, & Other Feedback
We welcome any constructive criticism you might offer. Please post your suggestions, bug reports, praise ;-), and other feedback to the O'Reilly Network RSS Forum.