Archive of "Syndication"

Archive for the "Syndication" Category

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.

New Feed

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No, my feed has not moved. It is still at feedburner in the same place. What is different is what it supports. I am now generating my feed direct from my template to RSS 2.0 using my new hAtom2RSS converter. This script supports both XOXO Blog Format and hAtom templates, including all extensions to hAtom described by the XOXO Blog Format. It outputs the comments, wfw:commentFeed, and slash:comments tags when the appropriate data is provided in the page. While this doesn’t do much that is visible in most current readers, what it does do is make the ‘comment count’ option for FeedFlare work. So I now have comment counts being displayed in my feed from a Blogger blog! I highly reccomend that anyone using the hAtom2RSS converter pair it with FeedBurner, if for no other reason than speed. The script polls your home page every time it is accessed, so having FeedBurner cache the feed will definately provide a performance boost.

Convert XOXO Blog Format / hAtom to RSS2.0

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hAtom2RSS is a script that takes the URL to an XOXO Blog Format or hAtom blog and generates an RSS 2.0 feed for posts. The script supports all XOXO Blog Format extensions to hAtom. It also generates comments, wfw:commentFeed, and slash:comments tags when the appropriate data is available in the page.

FeedXS : RSS can do anything

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FeedXS is the proof that RSS is beyond blogging. Where exactly it is, we’re not sure, however. FeedXS allows you to create RSS feeds through an MSN contact. Sign up for an account, add them to your MSN and ‘log in’. After that, everything you say to that contact goes in your feed. I’m not 100% sure how this is useful… or if it is useful. It might be if you could add the contact to a group conversation to keep track of it later, but even then I’m not sure… This is beyond blogging, and I’m sure the because-it’s-cool people will find all sorts of weird and wonderful uses for it… maybe even me 😉


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I posted before about how some people are posting their comments to At that time I said that I thought the idea good, but would far prefer it if there were a service dedicated to this use, for reasons I listed. After some discussion on the subject, and seeing more and more how useful content is sometimes lost because it is in a comment somewhere, I decided to try my hand at implementing the idea myself.

So, using Ning as the hosting and codebase, I have developed Commentosphere. Yes, it’s a tacky name, if you have another suggestion I’m more than open to it 😉 Developing on Ning was an interesting first-time experiance, on which I plan to write a post later. Currently posting to the service is handled primarily by a bookmarklet available on the about page or the posting page, but I hope eventually to have some greasmonkey script’s based off of Johan of Ecmanaut‘s script for You must have a Ning account to add comments to the service.

For those people who have been tagged their comments on I have included an importer. Having, however, no comment data on myself I have not been able to properly test it, so feedback on this feature would be greatly appreciated!

Comments may be filtered by tag, user, what post they are on, what blog they are on, what parents they have (more on that below), or any combination of these. They are also fully searchable. Tag intersections do not work yet, but I am trying to fix that. Syndication is possible via RSS 2.0 or JavaScript (for inclusion in a blog sidebar, see mine) and there is a JavaScript Feed Generation tool. Other formats (including JSON) should be coming soon.

Comments are semi-threaded on Commentosphere. It works like this: when adding a comment you can specify the permalink URLs of one or more comments that this comment is a reply to. When viewing that comment in the app these ‘parent’ comments are listed and linked to. A link to ‘child’ comments is presented and, if clicked, will bring up a page of all comments who have that comment set as their parent. Multiple parents is currently a tag buggy, but that should be fixed soon.

Last but not least is the aggregator. The aggregator lets you add posts, blogs, tags, and users to monitor for comments. When a new comment is added to Commentosphere for any item you monitor, it will be added to your aggregator. For off-Commentosphere comments you have the option of adding an RSS comments feed that will also have its content mixed into the page. The page may itself be syndicated via RSS to allow you to monitor comments from blogs across the web without cluttering your reader with all the innumerable feeds. The aggregator currently has a known bug in that it does not sort the items in any way, and thus they end up chrological, but grouped by source. This is obviously not the desired behaviour and I am working to correct this.

And that, in a (large) nutshell, is it. More information can be found on the about page or the tips page. Testing and feedback on all features (especially the importer) would be greatly appreciated.