Several times over the last few years, I’ve posted about “daily RSS feeds” or feeds that point to static content that can be scheduled so that the content is delivered to you in a drip feed fashion over an extended period of time via the feed. One problem with this is what to do if you want the next item delivered ahead of schedule? For example, you read one item, and immediately want the next, but it’s not slated for delivery for another 22 hours?
Ideally, what we want is something like an auto-responder. (You’re probably familiar with auto-responders in the context of email or SMS: send a message to a particular address or number, and immediately get a response back.)
So here’s something I’ve started mulling over, now things like the Google Feed API support PubSubHubbub/PUSH (the ability to literally push content to another service once it is published).
Suppose I subscribe to an RSS feed in Google Reader. The feed has a URL that is unique to me. The feed points to “static” content, such as a report. When I subscribe to the feed, it contains just the first item. Now suppose I read the post, and click a link that corresponds to a “feed management” URL which results in another item being added to the feed, and a ping being sent to a PubSubHubbub listener hub. My feed reader, which is also signed up to the hub, is informed that new content is available and it appears in my feed reader, almost immediately. That is, we have an autoresponding feed :-)
PS This is related… Back last year when I was in Cambridge as part of the Arcadia Fellowship programme, I took the opportunity to grab a coffee with Jim Downing and Peter Murrary Rust. I remember Peter asked what was particulalry interesting me at the time, and it was the notion of webhooks. I don’t think I’ve blogged explicitly about these before, but the idea behind a webhook is simple: it’s an HTTP callback…
(I’m just imagining blank faces…)
And that’s webhooks.
So how do webhooks relate to things like PUSH? Well, if a service offers a PUSH service, don’t you think it would be handy to be able to sign up to that service with a URL of another service that will do something with the data being PUSHed? That’s a webhook…
PPS something I keep meaning to play with: webhooks for WordPress – HookPress.