OUCS (Computing Services) has developed OXITEMS, a newsfeed system for the University of Oxford. It allows members of the University to set up newsfeeds and add items to them.

Establishing newsfeeds is a relatively new mechanism for delivering information. Essentially, a newsfeed is a collection of related items. For example, there might be newsfeeds for:

  • this term's music events in Balliol College;
  • the latest news from Computing Services;
  • a list of seminars in the History department;
  • the studentships available in the Zoology department.

The following information is available about OXITEMS:

The key features of OXITEMS are:

  • it is a system whose administration has been devolved to the units of the University: to IT Support Staff in the departments and colleges and to authorised usernames of societies and clubs;

  • it is a system that has three levels of authorisation:

    • an administrator within a unit is able to create newsfeeds for that unit and assign a manager for each newsfeed;
    • a manager looks after the day-to-day maintenance of a newsfeed; in particular, he/she is responsible for assigning authors;
    • authors are able to add new items and edit existing items of a newsfeed.

OXITEMS is still being developed. Its code is written in PHP and, behind the scenes, it uses a PostgreSQL server. The PHP scripts produce XML which is then transformed into HTML using XSL. OXITEMS is able to deliver newsfeeds in the RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom 0.3 and Atom 1.0 formats. For events, it produces HTML that conforms to the hCalendar specification, and it can deliver details about one or more events in iCalendar format (which can then be imported into calendaring programs, such as Apple iCal, Google Calendar, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, Oracle Calendar or WebCalendar).