We were pretty excited when we first heard about Sweetcron, a self-hosted lifestreaming application developed by Yongfook. Today, after a bit of a delay, Sweetcron has finally released its software and we immediately downloaded and installed it ourselves. While it is still pretty barebone, Sweetcron represents a great solution for those who don't necessarily want to participate in the discussions on Friendfeed, but still would like to set up a lifestream.

Installation

Sweetcron is a self-hosted service, so you will need access to a server with PHP and MySQL running on it. After downloading the code, the install is pretty typical for that of self-hosted application. It's a bit more complicated than installing Wordpress or OpenTape, because you have to enter your data in numerous places and you have to edit your .htaccess when you want to install Sweetcron in a sub-directory.However, if you just follow the steps in the documentation, you should be able to install Sweetcron in less than 10 minutes.

After this, you just start adding your RSS feeds, and you are ready to go.

Final Result

The lifestream itself looks and works just like you would expect it, with a number of little surprises. One of the nicest features of Sweetcron is that it can format every new entry according to where it came from. A digg item, for example, gets a blue background, a Flickr items shows the photo on a green background with the caption underneath, and Twitter posts show in a blue box with your avatar in the top left corner (as long as you uploaded your avatar into the right spot in Sweetcron's directory structure).

By default, Sweetcron updates your stream every 30 minutes, but you can also set the cron service on your server to update more frequently.

You can write your own posts in Sweetcron as well, but the editor doesn't handle anything else but pure text and HTML code.

Bring Your Own Services

As of now, Sweetcron only creates your lifestream - if you want to add comments, Sweetcron recommends you install Disqus, and if you want to have a contact form on your site, it recommends you head over to wufoo to create one.

The two default themes are nice, especially the "Boxy but Good" one you can see in the screenshots here. Over time, others will surely start developing more themes and hacking the existing themes doesn't seem too hard.

Verdict

Sweetcron does exactly what it promises to do. It is important to note, though, that this is not a Friendfeed-in-a-box type service. Your lifestream stands completely separate from every other Sweetcron service (though you could create a master feed for a group by patching all the RSS feeds together and running them through another Sweetcron installation).

For those who just want to have a lifestream on their blog, for example, Sweetcron is a great solution, especially if you don't mind hacking Sweetcron to fit your own needs.

There are, of course, various other self-hosted applications that have a similar feature set (see Mark Krysnky's list here), and many of them come as Wordpress plugins, making their installation very easy. Few, though, give you the flexibility of Sweetcron.