I’m gonna stick to playing with SimplePie and WordPress and let Andy Rush (the new MediaWiki celebrity) and Patrick Gosetti Murray-John (the old-gold Drupal fan-boy) do their thing. I can officially announce that the SimplePie RSS parser runs fine on Bluehost. Take a look at the demo installation on my bluehost account here. Additionally, I have been using a plugin called BDPRSS (my write-up here) which, in fact, does much the same things as SimplePie. Yet, both have their specific benefits and drawbacks. A huge benefit of SimplePie is the way it formats the feeds it pulls in. BDPRSS choked on displaying flickr photos or formatting the feeds from YouTube, whereas SimplePie feeds both of these services quite nicely into WordPress. See the examples of these below.
A potential drawback of the stock SimplePie plugin is that it doesn’t have a user interface in the backend, so you will have to copy and paste simple php code into the sidebar and/or template. You can also post it into a page or post in WordPress if you are using the EXEC-PHP plugin.
One thing I haven’t figured out about SimplePie is whether or not you can combine multiple feeds into one -this was the major selling point for me when using BDPRSS, and a feature which subsequently fueled the experiment with pulling class feeds into a static page with WPMU (write-up here). So, I still have some more research to do with this tool, but I am more than excited about the possibilities.
SimplePie Test with YouTube
echo SimplePieWP('http://youtube.com/rss/global/recently_added.rss#feed', 'items:3'); ?>
SimplePie Test with flickr
echo SimplePieWP('http://www.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?format=rss2#feed', 'items:3'); ?>