Installing and flexing the Managing News Drupal Distribution

I finally got a chance to install the Managing News Drupal distribution the other day, and it's pretty slick. The idea behind it is to aggregate news feeds and allow multiple users to collaborate on organizing, commenting and sharing the items with others. After hearing what some people are doing with it, it made me really excited to use it on my own projects.

Below is a walkthrough of installing and working through the default features of Managing News, documented as I went through the process myself.

Installing Managing News

Download the distribution from http://managingnews.com/.

As with any Drupal installation, you'll need to:

  • Create a database
  • Have a domain or folder in a domain to work with
  • Copy the default.settings.php file in /sites/default to a new file called settings.php

Once you're ready to install, go to the folder and select "Managing News" installation profile and click "Save and Continue"

Fill out the database information, click next.

Fill out the user account information, click next.

You should now see the main Managing News screen:

Adding feeds

It sounds like the first think I need is a Feed, so I click on the Feeds button and type my blog's RSS feed into the Feed URL field and click "Preview." This is what I get:

Okay, looks like the preview features doesn't work, so I click Save.

Looks like it imported, here's what I see now:

Sharing

Now it's time to explore some of the features. I'm going to take a look at the Share feature.

Nice, I can share via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or E-mail. My first thought is that there should be an Evernote link here, too, since I use that as a funnel to the other channels.

When I click the Twitter link, it takes me directly to Twitter, where I have to log in. After I'm logged in, I click the Twitter link again, and Managing News pre-populates my status box, including a shortened URL, nice!

When I click on the Facebook link, it gives me the option of posting a "share" on Facebook, with a couple other options, including connecting up a status update or sending the share as an e-mail. I'm not familiar with the Share feature, so I had to look up. Here's a bit about the Share feature for Facebook developers. Here's what the screen looks like:

When I click on the E-mail link, it populates an e-mail, complete with shortened url, like so:

Okay, this is nice and very straightforward.

When I click the Trash button, the item collapses in a nice, ajax-y fashion.

Editing tags for the posts is nice, too:

  • Click the edit button
  • Start typing tags, separated with commas
  • When you press Enter or click away from the tags, it will save the tags and make them clickable links, which will then direct you to a listing of all items that match that tag.

Getting a map error?

There was an error in the map rendering on the home page which made me want the mapping features even more:

So I added Development Seed's rss feed, figuring that if anyone had geolocation data in their feed it would be them. And sure enough, here's what the map looked like afterwards: 

That's sweet.

Viewing options

Up near the top of the page are some different viewing options, so I thought I should explore those:

When I click on the map, I get a larger rendering of the same map I saw above:

It took me a minute to figure out what the difference was between the News and List view (you can hover over the icons to see what they are), but I think it's just that the List view doesn't have snippets, only titles, so the output is a bit more concise.

Embedding Managing News Widgets

I got pretty excited when I saw the Embed link in the lower right hand corner of the page. When you click that, you get a preview of the widget plus embed code that you can then copy and paste into a web page. You can embed a preview map by going to the map view and clicking Embed, or a list view by going to News or List and clicking Embed. Here's what it looks like when you click on the Embed ink in the News view.

I tested it out by creating a dummy, pure HTML page and pasting the code in. It works! Here's what the Map preview looks like on an HTML page with nothing else on it:

So, this could be a very cool way to let other people share your aggregations.

Map layers

In the upper-right corner of the Map view, there's a cute little button that looks like a stack of papers. If you click that, you'll get some options on what layers you'd like to see on the map:

The OSM Maplink layer shows country names, and when you zoom in you can see roads and other borders as well:

In the lower right-hand corner, next to the embed options, is an account link. If you click that, you'll see some settings for your account:

Searching and saving searches

The Search view leverages Drupal's search infrastructure to search, so the first time you go to the search page, you probably won't be able to see much. Drupal's search compiles the index on cron runs, so eventually you'd want to set up cron to run on your site. However, you should be able to update the index manually by clicking the Update now link in the search index box:

I clicked the button twice and got the follow error, but that's because only one instance of cron can run at a time:

When I do a search for Great, I see a couple nice things. First, the instances of the text are highlighted, and second there is a Save this search button:

Clicking the button adds the search to the side Saved searches box:

Creating a channel

Okay, on to Channels. When I click the Channels link, here's what I get:

I click on the Example channel item, and it gives me some instructions:

I click edit, and add the test tag to the channel, which I've already added to a couple of articles. I run into a funny little visual error, where the submit buttons are hidden, but if I keep scrolling down they re-appear:

When I've submitted the form, I get a listing that renders pretty much the same as the Search or News listing, but contains matches for the tags I've set.

Between the Search and Channel features, I felt like there was some common ground. If you could do a search based on 1) keywords, 2) tags and 3) specific feeds, the channels would be the saved searches.

Subscribing to RSS feeds

Managing News generates RSS feeds for any News, Tags, Search or Channels. Just navigate to the page you'd want to subscribe to and click the RSS Feed button:

Printing

Clicking the Print button above lets you print a nicely formatted list of feeds so you can read them later on:

This looks pretty slick, but would be more practical to me if could print out the entire body of the post.

Help

Clicking the ? icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen will give you contextual help. If you click it on the home page, you'll get something like:

The is some basic help for all of the main tabs above, but none for saved searches or tags.

Additional notes

Nice input descriptions

I really like the conditional display of help text for inputs. It keeps the clutter way down. Here's an example:

The help text only shows when you are filling out or hovering over an input. Nice! I'd like to know if there's a module for that, or if it's theme based.

Modules used

To find the modules used by Managing News, you can go to /profiles/managingnews/. There are three folders there, and here are the contents of each:

contrib:

custom:

features:

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Comments

Nice detailed article. The help text hover effect is coming from Development Seed's newest version of the Admin module + their Rubik theme.

Thanks for the tip, I'll have to take a look at Rubik. Cheers!

ps: what comment module are you using? What's giving me the Ajax-ness when I hit save?

Hi Terry, I just posted a blog post about how I manage comments in this blog, including the ajax-y goodness bit: http://chrisshattuck.com/blog/how-increase-interaction-your-blog-right-c...

The one big problem that made me give up Managing News is that it isn't for users of IE6.

Despite the horror that IE6 is, a substantial % still uses it, so MN excludes those users in one stroke.

Hi Chris, I'm having some problems with feeds. Keep getting error messages like this: Download of feed://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=microbicide failed with code -1003.

This one doesn't work either: feed://www.avac.org/ht/a/GetFeedAction/content/Releases

Any idea what I'm doing wrong? Or what else to try? Thanks!

Hi Marilyn,

It's good that there's a error code to put to the problem. I would suggest first searching issues in the Managing News issue queue and then the Feeds issue queue, since that's most likely the module related to the error. If you don't find anything that helps, go ahead and post a new issue in the Managing News issue queue.

Good luck!
Chris

Hi Chris, Thanks for the suggestion. I went to the issue queue, found an open issue for the 1003 error message and added my experience. Both Will and Alex answered, and it feels good to be helping them, and myself at the same time. Here's the issue: http://drupal.org/node/723548

Hi Chris,
Managing News is a wonderful out-of-the-box app.
My feed stream is growing steadily, but so does the database. Do you have any suggestions on keeping the size of the db in check?

Have you checked out the Managing News issue queue? It would be great to post your question there. I haven't flexed MN enough to have had to deal with that issue just yet. But if you find out something, definitely post back here!

> Hi !
>
> When I select in Select an installation profile: Managing News
> A news aggregator by Development Seed
> i get this message:
>
> Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 20 seconds exceeded in /home/users/jvinicky/news.jecool.net/web/includes/file.inc on line 934
>
> Can U help me?
>
> Jaroslav Vinicky

You will need to up the max execution time in your php configuration. Here's one way: http://php.net/manual/en/function.set-time-limit.php. Hope that helps!

i get this error msgs when i install

Warning: Table 'kwami.access' doesn't exist query: SELECT 1 FROM access WHERE type = 'host' AND LOWER('127.0.0.1') LIKE LOWER(mask) AND status = 0 LIMIT 0, 1 in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

Warning: Table 'kwami.users' doesn't exist query: SELECT u.*, s.* FROM users u INNER JOIN sessions s ON u.uid = s.uid WHERE s.sid = 'lp5snuompicamq9fcg2vgetmf1' in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

Warning: Table 'kwami.cache' doesn't exist query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache WHERE cid = 'variables' in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

Warning: Table 'kwami.variable' doesn't exist query: SELECT * FROM variable in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

Notice: Undefined variable: variables in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\bootstrap.inc on line 558

Warning: Table 'kwami.cache' doesn't exist query: UPDATE cache SET data = '', created = 1287401511, expire = 0, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = 'variables' in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

Notice: Undefined variable: variables in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\bootstrap.inc on line 565

Warning: Table 'kwami.system' doesn't exist query: SELECT name, filename, throttle FROM system WHERE type = 'module' AND status = 1 AND bootstrap = 1 ORDER BY weight ASC, filename ASC in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

Warning: Table 'kwami.url_alias' doesn't exist query: SELECT COUNT(pid) FROM url_alias in C:\wamp\www\managingnews-1.1\includes\database.mysql.inc on line 128

can u help me out

I installed MN and have some feeds running through. When I click on Share nothing happens and nothing pops up.

Have you encountered this?

I've been playing around with MN for about a week now, however still can't find my way around fully customizing the Widget map view.
I do all I want (set center, restrictions, behaviors, etc.) but can't figure out how to change the goddamn color of the map I'm using.
I'we set World Glass for small maps and would like to change that grey with say blue. There is obviousely no way to apply the theme to the widget, so what are my options...besides downloading a new map and messing arround withthe code.

If share feature is not working for you. Try this method.
http://www.siteground.com/tutorials/drupal-tutorial/drupal_sef.htm

I just remove the '#' comment in root .htaccess for this line.
# RewriteBase /

It started working for me.

Hi Chris,

Please note that I am nearly a complete newbie...

I want to use this platform with an install of Acquia Drupal's Dev Desktop, but something in their settings stops me from getting past the database setup. Have you any experience with using these tools in conjunction.

Thanks for your great tutorial and support.