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Web Design and Development
Getting Started

Lightweight Portals with Meerkat
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Hand-crafting a feed

Feeds come in two flavors:

  • Profiles are filters based on category, channel, time, and optional search keywords or regular expression; they are constantly self-updating as new items are picked up by Meerkat.

  • Mobs are groupings of items hand-picked by you -- not unlike a list of favorites/bookmarks. You update mobs manually by adding or removing stories from the list.

Automagically with profiles

Let's build a simple PHP profile, pulling from stories in the "Lang: PHP" category.

  1. Set Meerkat's controls so that "Category" is set to "Lang: PHP," the "Search For" box is empty, and "Show me" is set to "ALL" (PHP items are few and far between).

  2. Select Save Settings to Profile... from the Profiles/Mobs popup-menu.

  3. Saving the new Profile

    Saving the new profile.

  4. The screen refreshes and a "Save Settings to" window appears. Type php into the New profile field and click the Save button to save these settings. The "Save Settings to" window closes.

  5. Restoring the custom PHP Profile.

    Restoring the custom PHP profile.

  6. Again, we're interested in the URL for our new "PHP" profile. Restore it by selecting PHP from the "My Profiles..." section of the Profiles/Mobs popup-menu.

  7. Copy the URL from your browser's Address/Location bar and paste it somewhere for safekeeping -- again, make note of what it is.

That's all there is to creating a profile. You can always adjust stored settings by restoring the profile, making desired changes, selecting "Save Settings to Profile...," and selecting an "Existing profile" to save to.

Manually with mobs

Next we'll try our hand at building a mob, a hand-picked list of items for inclusion in a feed. By the way, in case you were wondering, a "mob" is the collective term for more than one Meerkat: "a mob of meerkats."

  1. If you've never created a mob before, you'll need to do so now. Select Manage my Mobs... from the Profiles/Mobs popup menu. The "Mob Manager" window appears.

  2. Click the New button to create your first mob. Name it top_news and click the OK dialog box button.

    Creating the top_news Meerkat mob.

    Creating the top_news Meerkat mob.

  3. Your empty "top_news" mob is created and displayed. Now we'll need that URL again, so copy it and paste it along with the others.

    Getting the URL of the mob.

    Getting the URL of the mob.

  4. I'd suggest supplying a description and category for reference. Click the Save button and close the "Mob Manager" window when finished. You can always make changes to your mob information by selecting it from the "Mob Manager," making changes, and saving them.

    Saving changes to a mob.

    Saving changes to a mob.

  5. Adding an item to a mob.

    Adding an item to a mob.

  6. Let's get on to adding items to our new mob. You'll notice in Meerkat's "Action" column a set of icons alongside each item; the dotted-circular one is used to add the associated item to a mob. Clicking the icon summons the "Meerkat Mobs" window.

  7. Select the appropriate mob from the "Meerkat Mobs" window; the window will disappear automatically. Add items to any of your mobs at any time this way.

    Adding and removing items from a Mob.

    Adding and removing items from a mob.

    Remove items from a mob by un-checking their associated checkbox(s) and clicking Save.

That's all there is to creating feeds. You can also whip up feeds on-the-fly using Meerkat's URL-line API, documented in Meerkat: An Open Service API.

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

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