Big In Japan Open Sources RSS Tools, ElfURL

Dallas, Texas based social media consultancy Big in Japan has announced that it’s open sourcing the code to several of its very handy little web tools. The company says the tools have proven impractical to keep up to date by themselves and a diversion from paid client work. Fair enough. I hope other people will make use of the newly accessible code and make these tools even cooler. I’ve enjoyed using several of them for quite some time. If you’ve been using them too, don’t worry, the company says they’ll remain in operation as hosted services.

These are the same people who open sourced SimpleTicket, the open source trouble ticketing tool. The company’s award winning Podserve podcasting system will remain proprietary. It’s great that Big in Japan is going to continue supporting these free, hosted tools – the RSS to IM tool alone quickly grew to 30,000 users and that can be quite a burden for a non revenue generating service.

Here’s a list of the tools that are being offered to the community. Many non-developers will find these useful too. These are the kinds of tools that make RSS so great, it makes information very pliable.

ElfURL – A URL shortcut creator like TinyURL, but if you like you can tag your shortcuts for search engine indexing and get an RSS feed tracking the number of click-throughs for each ElfURL. I use ElfURL several times a day.

– An RSS feed splicer. You provide multiple RSS feeds and this service combines them into one. Add tags and descriptions for sharing and indexing. I prefer FeedRinse (to add filters at any time) or Lazy Tom’s FeedJumbler because I’m more familiar with it, but making this open source could lead to some interesting developments. It could also be nice for many reasons to have on your own domain. When it comes to using 3rd party feed splicing apps, it’s also fun to run the new feed through FeedBurner so you can tell how many subscribers the feed has. I did that some time ago with the NPTech Tag metafeed for nonprofit technologists.

– An RSS to IM alert system. Very basic and there are better tools available, but three cheers for this one being open sourced.

SocialMail – Email to RSS conversion tool. Very nice for getting Email newsletters and other old school communication delivered by RSS. There are a number of other options available around the web, but they tend to be fly by night and this is a lightweight service you don’t want collapsing mid-use. I’d love to see filtering added to this, as it is though you can easily combine it with FeedRinse.

– An OPML file backup system, to store the list of feeds you are subscribed to in case your computer crashes, your online feed reader melts, etc. A very nice idea, not as much fun as ShareYourOPML or, but does include tags and descriptions. I’m still convinced that OPML is loads of fun and is going to take off someday.

QwikPing – This one is boring, but maybe someone will be able to do something interesting with it. Good luck dealing with spammers if it’s anything public, of course.

All in all, that’s a pretty good list of tools. It only makes sense that they never proved viable for one company to maintain, none of them were revenue generating. They could, though, prove very useful in a suite of services that other companies and consultants offer their clients. I’d love to see some of them continue being developed.