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Friday, June 28, 2002

Adding external content management to Blogger Pro

Adding marker tags to a Blogger Pro template is a way of layering content management capabilities on top of the basic package — and it's a method that can be applied to other weblog editors and indeed to any other template-based content publishing system. The advantage is that it enables you to add your own content management features, rather than being limited to those that are made available by the weblog system.

Although very rudimentary at present, the small Pro2 family of programs that I've created for tihs site in recent weeks illustrate this point when compared to the internal features available within Blogger Pro:

  • Pro2rss creates an RSS feed that includes the first two lines of each posting as a description field, and which uses the permalink as the URL for each item rather than sending visitors to the main page, where the item may no longer be.
  • Pro2sumjs creates a Javascript version of the same information. For many users, this is more valuable than an RSS feed, because it makes it possible for them to syndicate their headlines both through their own site and to other sites without having to worry about how to convert RSS into HTML. Pro2sumjs also incorporates another feature that I think is very important — it allows site owners some choices about what information they include in their feed.
  • Pro2sum creates an HTML version of the same information that can be cut-and-pasted into an at-a-glance archive index, something that Blogger Pro doesn't currently offer without some very heavy-duty Javascript coding
OK, the downside is that all these functions require manual cutting-and-pasting, whereas Blogger's built-in functions are automated (when they work). But that could be fixed. The principle remains, which is that the approach of marking up the content with tags that can then be read by an external system means you're no longer reliant on Blogger's developers catering to your individual requirements. There are some interesting possibilities for extending this system — the one I find most intriguing is to use it to add categorization, which could then be the basis for generating category indexes. So I'm inclined to pursue this experiment a little further to see where it leads.

posted by Phil 11:50 AM (GMT) | comments | link
Creating a Javascript headlines feed

Pro2sumjs automatically creates Javascript code for a headlines feed from any weblog that's been marked up for use with one of the Pro2 family of programs. This latest addition to the family scans the weblog and creates a list of titles and first lines in Javascript, ready for saving to a Javascript file on your web server. You can then include the script in your weblog template, or any other pages and template files, by adding a simple line of HTML, and each time you update the Javascript, the new information will be shown on all those pages. Letting other sites include the same line of HTML is an easy way of syndicating your content across multiple sites.

This new program is designed for use alongside Pro2rss. Use the two online forms to create updated Javascript and RSS files at the same time, and then upload both to your web server at the same time. Wouldn't it be easier if you could do all of this in a single program? Yep, that's definitely on the wishlist.

posted by Phil 11:13 AM (GMT) | comments | link

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

PHP functions temporarily down

Because of a 'network problem' at the hosting provider, Hostcentric, PHP functions (most notably Pro2rss and related programs) are temporarily not operating.. No official time to fix has been quoted, but I am hoping things will be operational again in a few hours' time. A knock-on effect of this downtime is that RSS and JavaScript feeds for all of LooselyCoupled.com are not being updated until PHP functionality is restored (ie this is mission-critical for me, too).

UPDATE: [6/26/2002 7:39:10 PM] PHP functions are now working correctly again.

posted by Phil 3:26 PM (GMT) | comments | link

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