Blog Reader / Post Sharer

I’ve been experimenting a way to share posts on my sidebar. Rather than a static blogroll which just lists blog titles or an RSS feed which shows every post from the feed, I want to specifically select the posts that appear on the sidebar. I don’t know if there’s already something out there that does this.

I’m working on a blog reader which lets me select posts. When I choose to share a post, it writes an XML file which includes only those selected posts.

On my blog, I have an RSS widget which reads the file that I created.

My source is a yahoo pipe:

I use the regex module to add a feed title to the beginning of each post. Doing this is useful for a mashup because the feed title would otherwise get lost.

But the source can be any valid feed, either a mashup or a feed from a single blog.

What my reader does is displays all posts from the source feed, each with a “Share” button, which, when pressed, recreates my XML file. The XML file is an RSS feed which only includes posts which I have selected. It doesn’t include posts which have scrolled off my feed, so this isn’t like a bookmarking service which will save bookmarks indefinitely.

The result is on my sidebar, titled “Selected Posts from my Blogroll”.

It only updates when I use it, so my sidebar will be stale if I don’t keep up on it.

The server that this all runs on is at suffolkian.com. My xml output file is http://www.suffolkian.com/bnmng_blogroll/selectposts/selectedposts_bnmng.xml

I’m still just experimenting, but if you want to use this application or help me test it, use the contact form and let me know your user name, email address, desired password, and source feed. This is real low security, so you probably shouldn’t use the same password that you use for your online banking. I’ll make a configuration file for you and email the link to your reader and the link to the xml file that the reader generates. I make no promises that it will work or that you won’t loose your saved posts as I make changes to the code.

Feed Combining: Yahoo Pipes / RSS In Page

On Tina’s old blog, which is still online but not updated since she moved to WordPress, there is a blog roll on her sidebar which shows her blogs in order of most recent update. I can’t find anything that works as well for WordPress. There are various feed combiners for WordPress, but all that I found leave out the name of the blog that the item comes from. And I wanted that to be included.

The best way I found was to use Yahoo Pipes, an online feed combiner from Yahoo. I use the RSS output from Pipes as the source for WordPress’s standard RSS module. Pipes is difficult to understand at first, but it has a video tutorial that should be enough to get a novice started. More advanced operations, like what I’m about to describe, are for people who are more experienced with internet applications.

What I like best about Pipes is the Regex module, which allows me to alter the feed of each item before it gets combined with other feeds. I use the Regex module to put an identifier in the title of each item.

The Feed module gets piped to the Regex module. In the Regex module I select item.title, and replace ^ with the name I want to use followed by a colon and a space. So “The Apocalypse Trade” becomes “Krugman: The Apocalypse Trade”. (^ is Regular Expression syntax for the beginning of a string).

I pipe all of the Regex-modified feeds into a Union module, then pipe the Union module into a Sort module. Finally, the sort gets piped to the Pipe Output. An example of the output is in my main blog.

Yahoo Pipes Editor

To get the RSS feed, I click “Back to My Pipes” and select the pipe I want, then click “View Results”, then “Get as RSS”.

The Regex module has much more capabilities than what I’m using it for and Pipes has more modules than I’ve explored.

Gigaom has a more in depth article.

The interface is a little hard to get use to and Yahoo Pipes intermittently fails to retrieve a feed, but it’s power and versatility make up for any shortcomings.

For a tool that works in wordpress.org and doesn’t require an external combiner, use Rss in page. RSS in Page does not provide a new feed, but it will embed the output of a combined feed into a page or text widget. There’s no graphical interface but if you’re familiar with using shortcodes and can learn some simple formatting commands it’s very versatile.