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The Department of Putting Things Into Other Things has been very busy last evening: I added an RSS reader to the website backend. It picks up the link to the comic for which a transcription was last entered into Oh No Robot and puts it on the ROCR.net front page, and it also parses the RSS feed from Waffle to put on the ROCR.net front page. That's one iframe gone from there. I don't like iframes, they're unsightly. But a lot of the time they're the only way for me to pull content from elsewhere into the site.
The main reason I wanted an RSS parser was to display the last transcription though. I've been trying to give the transcription effort more visibility, so I wouldn't have to do so much of the work myself and get more benefit from it. I hope this extra link gives recently transcribed comics, most of which are from the sparsely-visited zone in the middle of the archives, some more exposure.
Getting this add-on has made me realise that I understand web development better than I give myself credit for. While I was doing the washing-up yesterday, I found myself thinking "But wait a minute! A PHP-based RSS reader would poke any feed it pointed to 500 times a day! That would be rude. It's the thing that owners of feeds complain about. So... look for one that can cache the feeds." And so on. I was speccing out the program I needed in some detail, while scrubbing out pans. Time well-spent, I should say. Of course, I couldn't write the software myself, and while I could in theory drop the project in Mithandir's lap, there are some limits to what I'd ask of him.
For the time being, I settled with CaRP which was easy to configure, let itself be embedded into WillowCMS's PHP wrapper without any problem, and allows both for caching feeds and for wittling down the output to a single link. It's not exactly what I wanted - I'd have liked a little more flexibility wrapping my own HTML code around the output, but it's 95% there.
One thing that's missing in the free version is the ability to pull out the author name from a feed item, so rocr.net-embedded-Waffle now lacks author links. Since the others don't write all that much, I don't see this as a big problem.
I can imagine many uses for this program, some of them a bit evil. We'll see in the next few weeks.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 25, 2006 8:51 AM.

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