Automating BitTorrent Downloads with RSS

One of the reasons I like Azureus over all the other BitTorrent clients is plugin support. Azureus fans found a number of clever ways to extend the software by developing a series of add-ons. The downside is, some of the add-ons are a little geeky, but with a decent set of instructions, they do the trick quite nicely. A particular favorite of mine is the RSS support in Azureus. I can subscribe to an RSS feed with torrent files in it and fully automate the process of discovering and downloading the files in the torrent. It keeps all of my torrent downloads managed in one common interface, while also handling the files I normally use some kind of RSS client to track down.

Downloading Azureus RSS Support

This tutorial assumes you installed the Azureus BitTorrent client. If you haven't already installed Azureus, check through the list of Azureus configuration tips before proceeding.

After installing and configuring Azureus, you need to add a plugin for RSS support. There are two plugins available: RSS Import and RSS Feed Scanner. RSS Import was the first plugin with RSS support, but RSS Feed Scanner offers more feature configurability, which is why I recommend it over RSS Import.

To download the plug-in, choose Plugins > Installation Wizard from the Azureus menu. At this point, you can either browse the available plugin list on sourceforge.net or go to the Azureus RSS Feed Scanner page and download the file directly. The SourceForge list automatically filters out anything you already installed in Azureus, so you don't end up with duplicate files. Check the box next to RSS Feed Scanner and click next.

Choose Install the plugin(s) for all users if you want everyone who logs into your PC to have access to RSS within Azureus.

Installing RSS Feed Scanner

The next prompt verifies your intent to install RSS Feed Scanner. The plugin is downloaded from sourceforge.net and automatically installed as soon as the download completes. When installation is complete, Azureus provides a popup notification. Click the Close button on the installation dialog box.

Configuring RSS Feed Scanner

The first part of configuration for RSS Feed Scanner is in the Azureus Options menu. Open the options using Tools > Options (Ctrl+,) and expand the Plugins section. Highlight RSSFeed. Check the box to Load RSSFeed Tab on Startup. If you don't do this, you need to manually activate the plugin each time you open Azureus, which defeats the purpose of automated downloads.

Adding an RSS Feed

After configuring the basic RSS Feed Scanner options, you need to add some RSS feeds. Choose Plugin > RSSFeed from the Azureus menu. On the Options tab, click the icon next to the empty RSS Feed URLs: box to add a feed. Locate a feed you want to add.

For this example, I'm going to use the RocketBoom BitTorrent feed available from their RSS page.

Name the feed, paste the URL in the URL box, choose a folder where you want to download the torrents and check the box to make the feed Active. Click the Save button to save your feed settings.

The rest of the default options don't necessarily require change, although you may want to be kind to the feed provider and set a delay corresponding with the frequency of feed updates. For instance, in this case, I know RocketBoom updates daily so I only need to check their feed once every 24 hours. The Delay is calculated in seconds, so I add 86400 as the length of delay. This prevents wasted repeat checking of a feed that changes in a fixed period. Leaving the default 0 uses the delay selected in the Plugin Options, which is 15 minutes (900) unless you changed it to something else.

Adding an RSS Filter

After setting up a feed, it's time to configure a filter for your feed. Click the icon next to the empty Filters box. RSS Feed Scanner supports applying one filter to all feeds, which works if every feed you add matches your default criteria.

Choose a directory for your filter, which is the location the filter will download files. In this case, my filter criteria is looking for .torrent somewhere in the title or link of each RSS item. This seems obvious, but if you don't add a filter RSS Feed Scanner simply identifies RSS items without taking any action. The two other changes to make are to set the Type to None and check the Enabled box. Click Save. This is a great default filter because it automatically queues every .torrent file in your RSS feeds for download.

A second method of filtering is to search for a particular word or phrase in the title and link of each RSS item. Some feeds lump a bunch of different content items together and you might not want every file in the feed. For instance, if a feed contained The Daily Show and Chapelle Show, and you hate The Daily Show, you might use the phrase 'chapelle' as your filter instead of defaulting to every .torrent file.

Activating your RSS Feed Scanner

If you want your filter to take effect immediately, the final step is to restart Azureus. By restarting, you force Azureus to check your feeds and run the filter against them for any files matching criteria. When the filter finds a match, it will initalize the torrent download and add the file to the download queue.

Switching from the RSSFeed Scanner tab to the My Torrents tab, shows you all the RocketBoom files queued for downloading.