Single Item RSS Feeds on WordPress blogs: RSS For the Content of This Page

At Mash Oop North yesterday, Brian Kelly askd me how I got the “RSS for the content of this page” link onto my (hosted) WordPress blog:

Clicking the link on an arbitrary blog post page turns up an RSS feed containing just a single item: the content of that blog post.

The trick is quite simple, and relies on a couple of things.

The first thing you need to know is that you can get a single item RSS feed containing an RSS version of a single WordPress blog page by adding ?feed=rss2&withoutcomments=1 to the end of the page URL.

So for example, the RSS version of the post that lives here:
http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/enthusiastic-amateurs-and-overcoming-institutional-inertia/
on Brian’s blog can be found here:
http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/enthusiastic-amateurs-and-overcoming-institutional-inertia/?feed=rss2&withoutcomments=1

The second thing you need to be aware of is how wb browsers handle links that appear in a web page, and in particular how they handle relative links. Relative links are most easily thought of as links in a web page that do not specify the domain of the link. So for example, on this blog, the domain is ouseful.wordpress.com. Links to posts on OUseful.info look something like the following:

https://ouseful.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/mash-oop-north-pipes-mashup-by-way-of-an-apology/

An absolute way of writing this as a link in a web page would be to write the link in an HTML anchor tag as follows:

<a href=”https://ouseful.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/mash-oop-north-pipes-mashup-by-way-of-an-apology/”&gt;

That is, we specify the domain (https://ouseful.wordpress.com) and the path to the resource as well as the resource page itself.

A relative link would be written as follows:

<a href=”2009/07/07/mash-oop-north-pipes-mashup-by-way-of-an-apology/”>

with the browser filling in the gaps using the domain that the page itself is served from (https://ouseful.wordpress.com).

(For a basic grounding in how browsers handle relative links, see Absolute vs. Relative Paths/Links. If you want the hardcore standards stuff, you should read the original RFC: RFC 1808: Relative Uniform Resource Locators.)

One further thing to know about relative links is that in you use something of the form ?foo=bar in the link (e.g. <a href=”?foo=bar”>), the browser will add the argument to the end of the current page’s URL. So if the page mypage.html being served from http://example.com contains the relative link <a href=”?foo=bar”> that link will actually point to http://example.com/mypage.html?foo=bar.

Putting these two things together (how to create a URI for the single item RSS feed version of a post, and how to construct relative URIs), we are now in a position to add an ‘RSS version of this page’ link to a WordPress blog sidebar.

So, to get the single item RSS feed link, go to the Widgets settings area of your WordPress blog and add a text widget as follows:

Okay, Brian?:-)

The Fake Digital Britain Report

Jumping on the “Fake” bandwagon, we’ve decided to do a little experiment over on WriteToReply, by providing t’community who complained bitterly about the Digital Britain Interim report an opportunity to come up with something better…

And so, I’d like to announce the The Fake Digital Britain Report wiki.

So if you think that we need 2Gbps rather than 2Mbps broadband access, then argue your case on the wiki pages…

The initial section headings are taken form the original WTR republication of the report (“Digital Britain Interim Report” on WriteToReply although of course, they are subject to change… (A lot of people were complaining that the UK games industry was not well represented in the interim report, so now they have an opportunity to add in the missing section…;-)

As ever, a feed is available from the fake report in the form of a changes feeds to the wiki: Recent changes to “The Fake Digital Britain Report” feed.

Another thing we’re trying to do with the Fake Digital Britain report is find a way of supporting the wiki activity by pulling in comments made to the report on WriteToReply to the “Fake Digital Britain Report” discussion page:

This is achieved using the MediaWIki Extension:RSS:

The re-use of the original section headings in the wiki page means that there’s also a sensible mapping to the comments in the discussion page, which are pulled in at the section level from WTR.

PS We’re also going to have a look at the WIki Article Feeds Extension to see if we can do anything interesting with that… In the meantime, we’ve already got a demonstration of how to pull a mediwiki page into WordPress page here: Guidelines for re-publishers (scraped from the wiki) (uses the Append WIki page plugin (I think?).

Who knew that blikis could be so much fun…?;-)

WP_LE

And so it came to pass that the campus was divided.

The LMS had given way to the VLE and some little control was given over to the instructors that they might upload some of their own content to the VLE, yet woe betide any who tried to add their own embed codes or script tags, for verily it is evil and the devil’s own work…

And in the dark recesses of the campus, the student masses were mocked with paltry trifles thrown to them in the form of a simple blogging engine, that they might chat amongst each other and feel as if their voice was being heard…

But over time, the blogging engine did grow in stature until such a day that it was revealed in its fullest glory, and verily did the VLE cower beneath the great majesty of that which came to be known as the WP_LE…

…or something like that…

Three posts, from three players, who just cobbled together something that could well work at institutional scale…

  1. New digs for UMW Blogs, or the anatomy of a redesign: an “anatomy of the redesign of UMW Blogs” (WordPress MU), describing sitewide aggregation, tagclounds and all sorts of groovy stuff on the homepage, along with courses, support and contact pages;
  2. Reuse, resources, re-whatever…: showing how Mediawiki can now be used in all sort of ways to feed wiki content into WordPress… (just think about it: this is the bliki concept working for real on two best-of-breed, open source plaforms…);
  3. Batch adding users to a WordPress site: “import users into a site. All you need to provide is a username and email address for each student and it will create the account, generate a password, assign the specified user Role, and send an email to the student so they can login”…

So what do we have here? WordPress MU and Mediawiki working together to provide a sitewide, integrated publish platform. The multi-user import “doesn’t create blogs for each student” but I think that’s something that could be fixed easily enough, if required…

Thus far, we’ve been pretty quiet here at the OU on the WordPress and Mediawiki front, although both platfroms are used internally… but just before the summer, as one of the final OpenLearn projects, we got the folks over at Isotoma to put together a couple of WordPress and WordPress MU widgets.

Hopefully we’ll be making them available soon, along with some demo sites, but for now, here’s a tease of what we’ve pulled together.

Now you may or may not remember the the Reverend’s edupunkery that resulted in Proud Spammer of Open University Courses, a demo of how to import an OpenLearn unit content RSS feed into a WordPress blog…?

Well we’ve run with that idea – and generalised it a little – so that you can take any of the OpenLearn topic/subject area feeds (that list a set of units in a particular topic) and set up each of the courses itemised in the list with its own WordPress MU blog. Automatically. At the click of a button. What this means is that if you want to create collection of course unit blogs using OpenLearn units, you can do it in one go…

Now there are a few issues with some of the links that are pulled into the blogs from the OpenLearn feeds, and there’s some dodgy bits of script that need thinking about, but at the very least we now have a bulk spamming of OpenLearn courses tool… And if we can get a fix going with the imported, internal unit blog links, and maybe some automated blog tagging and categorising done at import time, then there is plenty of scope for emergent uncourse link mapping across and between OpenLearn WP MU course units…

Using separate WordPress MU blogs to publish unchanging “static” courses is one thing of course – the blog environment makes it easy to comment and publicly annotate each separate unit page. But compare these fixed, unchanging blog courses with how you might consume a blogged (un)course the first time it was presented… Assuming that pages were posted as they were written over the life of the course, you get each new section as new post in your feed reader every day or two…

So step in an old favourite of mine – daily feeds. (Anyone remember the OpenLearn_daily experiment that would deliver an OpenLearn unit via a feed over several days, relative to the day you first subscribed to it?) Our second offerin is a daily feeds widget for WordPress. Subscribe to a daily feed, and you’ll get one item a day from a static course unit blog in your feed reader, starting with the first item in the course unit on the first day.

Taking the two widgets together, we can effectively create a version of OpenLearn in which each OpenLearn unit will be delivered via its own WP MU blog, and each unit capable of being consumed via a daily feed…

A couple of people have been trying out the widgets already, and if anyone else would like a “private release” copy of the code to play with before we post it openly, please get in touch….