Technical Blog

Include Feeds / Reading Lists in Your Sidebar

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Including headlines in your sidebar is an old concept, one that can be very useful to both you and your readers. This post will by no means be a comprehensive list of methods, but I will outline what I feel are the ‘top 4’ ways to do this.

Peek-a-boo Headlines
Peek-a-boo headlines are a part of my version of FreshTags and may be coming to primary FreshTags eventually as well. I may soon be releasing a version of the hack that works well without a FreshTags installation. I really like this method because my blogroll still sends out link-love and for FreshTags users you get context-sensitive headlines.

FeedDigest is an old friend of mine. The first-ever feed-to-script service I used was RSSDigest, the forerunner to FeedDigest. The service provides excellent features, including the ability to mix feeds together into a single digest, include scripts for JavaScript or PHP, and an RSS mashup feed of your digest. You get 100% code control over the output as well as the many prefab templates for newbies. The only problem here is that you can only run 5 digests — any more and you pay.

Feed-o-Style is a newer cometitor to FeedDigest. You don’t get nearly the code control and there are no feed-mixing options, but their prefab templates are nice and customisable for most purposes. The only include option is JavaScript. There is also an ‘API’ by which you can generate feed-o-styles from a script.

Grazr is a different sort of service. Their code is barely customisable and again the only include option is JavaScript, but that’s because the whole system runs using AJAX-style operation. Headlines from a feed can be included in your sidebar, or an entire OPML reading list can be rendered (XOXO not yet supported, see my sidebar for an example). ATOM feed support seems to be missing as of yet, and there are some other issues (mostly caused by the unreliability of implementations of the OPML ‘spec’) but overall it is a very interesting start.

2 Responses


Grazr supports atom feeds but the OPML file type declaration wasn’t recognized. I’ve never seen an OPML file where the ‘type’ was declared as ‘atom’. I’ve added the case now so that OPML files with this type attribute should be listed as a feed now.

Customization will be allowed (especially appearance) but since it’s alpha level, I’m working on the core functionality before ‘turning on’ the customizing options.

Thanks for the interest!


I think I have the comment thing fixed. Some feeds use a <comment> tag for a regular html url of the first comment. The Grazr parser was getting confused with that and the comment feed tags. Thanks for pointing it out!

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