Information Plumbing

some feeds, a pipe, feedburner, javascript, CSS, and a target web page

The Idea

All blogs and many web sites offer the content also as XML feeds. The idea is to bundle a bunch of feeds and display the merged results on a new web page. Here is the plan:

Information flow from source blogs to a target page

The Plumbing

As an example, I will generate a page with the content of some blogs from the Hamburg user experience community.

First I create a pipe with Yahoo pipes. Pipes is a web tool to merge and directly manipulate XML feeds. The source code is actually a chart:

Pipe for uxHH blogs (April 2009)

The pipe for the uxHH example takes the feeds from 7 blogs (Fetch Feed) and the output from another pipe, that already combines my blogs. The streams are mergred and sorted by publication date, and should contain 25 items.

[Update Jan 2014]: Meanwhile the pipe grew a bit to aggregate 38 blogs.

Pipe for Blogs im Fluss (January 2014)

All the spaghetti code (!) top right adds proper author information to the feeds. You should be able to go to the pipe and inspect the source.

Burn the Feed

While Yahoo pipes offers a variety of output mechanismis – including a badge for a web page – I prefer the re-publishing feature in Google FeedBurner. The pipe's feed URL is used to burn a new feed in FeedBurner – feeds2.feedburner.com/uxhhblogs. A reason why FeedBurner rejects your feed might be the size of the feed. That's why I truncated my uxHH feed to 25 items.

In order to place the feed on a web page, I go to Publicize, choose BuzzBoost, and make some settings…

Save enables the service. In return I get some JavaScript that needs to be pasted to the target web page.

Local CSS is applied to change the formatting of the output. The class elements are:

And here is the final result: Blogs im Fluss.

Some Other Examples

P.S.: Publish to Mac Widget

There is one more. I discovered a way to create a simple widget for Mac that displays an RSS feed. It does not involve coding, because you do not have to leave the save teritory of the pre-defined example widgets, part of Apple's developer kit. The uxHH Widget displays the output of a Yahoo! pipe, that merges the feeds of Blogs im Fluss and uxHH Dialog:

_Happy info-plumbing!

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