September 1, 2014

Resource Roundup: Planet Android

Today marks the first in a series of posts on various Android development resources that you may want to keep in mind as you start in on The Next Great Android Killer App.

First up: Planet Android.

Planet Android is a blog planet, by which I mean an aggregator of existing blogs, effectively turning dozens of separate feeds into one. With a single feed subscription, you can get all the latest news and information about Android, with a strong emphasis on building Android applications. The planet includes the official Android developers blog, key Googlers like Dan Morrill and Romain Guy, and dozens more from both inside and outside the core Android team.

Ed Burnette, author of Hello, Android, is the creator of Planet Android. I asked him a couple of questions about Planet Android:


AG: How well has the Planet software been working for you?

EB: Surprisingly well. I’m using a fork of Planet called “Venus” (http://intertwingly.net/code/venus/) written by Sam Ruby. Adding a new feed is pretty easy: all I have to do is add a few lines to a .ini file and upload it to my hosting service. A cron job runs every 30 minutes and creates the aggregated web site you see at Planet Android. The whole thing is written in Python.

So far I’ve only had two problems worth mentioning. When I first started the site, whenever someone edited one of their blog entries it showed up as a brand new post, especially if they were using Blogspot. I fixed that by adding the “ignore_in_feed: updated” option in the configuration file. The other problem is that whenever I add a new site, Venus treats all its articles as new. That’s why you’ll see a pile of old articles show up on the home page every once in a while. It hasn’t bugged me enough to look for a solution yet, but maybe one of your readers can offer a tip.

AG: Do you have plans for Planet Android beyond the planet-style feed aggregation and re-feeding?

EB: No, there are plenty of great Android news and discussion sites (including AndroidGuys!) so I don’t feel the need to make another one. I might put in an advertisement at some point, but right now I’m just paying for it out of my own pocket because I find it so useful myself.

The inspiration for Planet Android was Planet Eclipse (http://www.planeteclipse.org), which was created a few years ago by Gunnar Wagenknecht and friends. Like Planet Eclipse, Planet Android is intended to be a “window into the world, work, and lives” of Android enthusiasts around the world. To make it more personal and engaging, I even encourage people to send me a little picture to display next to their posts. Unfortunately most of the authors haven’t done that yet.

Currently I aggregate 35 Android-related feeds, including the Android category of my own blog at ZDNet, Dev Connection (http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/). The Venus software combines all those feeds, producing a single feed of its own that can be subscribed via Google Reader or your favorite RSS/Atom viewer.

I can really see interest in Android ramp up because lately I’ve been getting more requests to add sites. I put in three new ones in the past week alone. My hope is that eventually we’ll pass the 211 mark (139 active) set by the Eclipse community. So bring out your feeds!


You heard the man! If you have an Android blog, in particular one related to Android application development, head over to Planet Android and submit your feed.