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Chris Shiflett

Hi, I’m Chris: entrepreneur, community leader, husband, and father. I live and work in Boulder, CO.


Migrating from FeedBurner to Google

When I logged into FeedBurner today, I was presented with the following message:

Your FeedBurner account "shiflett" and all of your feeds should move to Google.

I've actually been seeing this message for a few weeks, but today I didn't have the option to skip it. If you use FeedBurner, you're being forced to migrate your account to Google today.

There are a couple of concerns worth noting as you make this move:

  • The URL to your feed will change due to the migration from feeds.feedburner.com to feeds2.feedburner.com. Because the former redirects to the latter at the moment, there's still continuity, but if people have subscribed to the former, you'll lose subscribers if this ever changes. Does anyone know if Google is offering any assurances in this regard?
  • If you use FeedBurner's Site Stats feature, every URL for every post in your feed will change due to the shift from feeds.feedburner.com to feedproxy.google.com. Because many aggregators use URLs to identify posts, this means you will inadvertently spam anyone subscribed to your feed. (Every post in your feed will seem like a new post.)

I'm sure this was not planned haphazardly, but it does seem like the second issue would have been easy to solve. If Google wanted to be clever, they could simply preserve the old URLs indefinitely, so old posts could still use the same (feeds.feedburner.com) URLs, and all new posts could use the new (feedproxy.google.com) URLs.

Via Twitter, I learned that Ben Ramsey ran into this problem and accidentally spammed Planet PHP along with all of his other subscribers. With his help, we were able to determine how to disable proxying entirely, so that the real URLs to his blog posts showed up in his feed. Here are Ben's instructions:

Click your feed -> click Configure Stats under the Services heading in the left-hand column of the "Analyze" tab -> uncheck "Item link clicks" and click the Save button.

Figure 1 illustrates this. Leaving the middle checkbox ("Item link clicks") unchecked will restore your URLs. You can inspect Ben's feed to see the results.

Figure 1:

Uncheck the the item link clicks option.

With Google running the show, a Ma.gnolia meltdown seems unlikely, but it does seem like there are a few details that weren't addressed very well.

Because I've just made this switch myself, I decided to go ahead and change my feed URL while I'm at it. Although I plan to maintain the old feed URL indefinitely, please be sure you are subscribed to the following:

http://shiflett.org/feeds/blog

I have 4,088 subscribers according to FeedBurner. I'll add a comment or post a followup to let you know how this migration affects that number.

Sean doesn't want to use FeedBurner, because people can subscribe to your feed using a URL that's not under your control. These migration issues justify his concern, and we have been discussing ways to preserve statistics without giving up control. I might experiment to see if I can make a request to my FeedBurner URL that includes an X-Forwarded-For header for every request to my feed URL (http://shiflett.org/feeds/blog). If it works, this would be an alternative to redirecting that is transparent to subscribers.

Good luck to everyone migrating their feed(s) today!

About this post

Migrating from FeedBurner to Google was posted on Fri, 20 Feb 2009. If you liked it, follow me on Twitter or share:

6 comments

1.Chris Shiflett said:

There is a feature called MyBrand that looks like it will help. You can create a subdomain of your own to use as your feed URL, leaving you in control.

This doesn't help me, because I don't want to use a subdomain, but I might redirect to it instead of the FeedBurner URL as a way to maintain some control.

See here for more info once you've migrated:

http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mybrand

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 at 19:43:52 GMT Link


2.Basil Mohamed Gohar said:

Chris,

Technically, if Google is going to provide redirects from the old URL to the new one, RSS readers should update themselves. I am not sure if this is something built-in to the RSS standard or if it's just intelligent behavior on the part of the readers themselves. Liferea, for example, supports updating feed links through redirects.

Also, the uniqueness of RSS feeds should not include the proxy being used. Your site, for example, has the actual post's URL as its GUID. So if the site is the same, the uniqueness of the post should be preserved, regardless of proxy changes.

It is this feature, if I am not mistaken, that allows readers to know when you've read a post that may be aggregated in multiple places, for example, if the same person is syndicated through multiple Planets.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 at 06:27:26 GMT Link


3.Chris Shiflett said:

Hi Basil,

Technically, if Google is going to provide redirects from the old URL to the new one, RSS readers should update themselves.

I'm not sure what you mean, but keep in mind the redirect from the original feed URL (feeds.feedburner.com) to the new one (feeds2.feedburner.com) is a 302 (temporary redirect). No feed reader should modify the URL it is subscribed to.

Also, the uniqueness of RSS feeds should not include the proxy being used.

I think you misunderstand how proxying works in this case. Until he migrates, you can inspect Andrei's feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/gravitonic-rss2

Note that the URLs to his individual posts use the feeds.feedburner.com domain. Even if he disables this feature (as I describe above) when he migrates, all of his posts will appear as new, because they will use the gravitonic.com domain. There is currently no way for him to avoid this problem. He can only hope Google resolves it before he migrates his feed.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 at 18:02:19 GMT Link


4.Todd Eddy said:

I did the switch a week or so ago. The way this has allways been fixed for me. To illustrate. View my feed:

http://vrillusions.com/feed

Note the url doesn't change? It's using apache's mod_proxy. I give feedburner a special private url that contains the actual feed and then add the following to my .htaccess file (or virtualhost config if you want)

# these two are set earlier in my real file, but placed here for completeness
 
RewriteEngine On
 
RewriteBase /
 
# if they go to /feed than redirect them to feedurner
 
# IMPORTANT this part requires the mod_proxy module.  If you run into
 
# errors, make sure it is enabled.  Or you can change the P to an R
 
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^.*/feed/?$ [NC]
 
RewriteRule ^.*$ http://feeds2.feedburner.com/EXAMPLE/ [P,L]

I have maybe 5 subscribers, don't know how efficient this would be with 4,000 subscribers. If I understand how mod_proxy works. Someone makes a request to my server for /feed . The rewrite rule catches it and then my server pulls feedburner's content and displays it to the user. So if one of the motivations for using feedburner was to save bandwidth on hosting the feeds yourself, this may not be a good idea.

Also google has said they planned to keep feeds.feedburner.com redirect active "as long as the service remains" or something to that extent.

Wed, 04 Mar 2009 at 19:36:18 GMT Link


5.Chregu said:

I tried to "fix" Planet PHP, so that at least in case something like this happens again, the latest 10 posts don't show up on top on the Planet.

I also try to use feedburner:origLink, if there's no guid present as a more reliable source for a guid.

Fri, 06 Mar 2009 at 06:15:56 GMT Link


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