10 December 2006

Feeded to the teeth

With the new Blogger came tons of new features. Ok, not tons, but many! And I'm glad to say that along with the features, came something that Avatar and I (and a lot of other people) had predicted. The rise of the feeds! Yep! If you've been following Bloggeratto well enough, by now you should be able to define what they are in your sleep. Avatar's obsession with them has made him chronicle every little change in the Blogger (and the Internet's) feed management system. That's a good thing, because Blogger Buzz hasn't, and with all the new feeds that have been added, it can get a little hard to know exactly what is available and what is not.

What the feed?

As far as I know, there are feeds for posts, comments, labels, and searches available to us to tap and hack. Each feed is available in the standard formats ATOM, RSS and JSON. You get them by appending a ?alt= at the end of the feed address and the name of the format you want it in. The basic path is http://yourblogname.blogspot.com/feeds/<data>/<default|summary|full>, which seems to be followed for all feeds almost to the T. This is a good thing, and a better thing being Blogger having the said feeds. They are actually letting people have all and any data that they want. Well, almost... One thing that I'd love to see Blogger do is offer post specific user set variablesBlogging platforms such as Expression Engine offer such custom fields. These can be individually configured to hold any kind of information the user wants. It's sometimes very handy to be able to add in 'extra' post info, and yet make it accessible 'with' the post. I hope Blogger adds something like this soon. and include it in their feeds. For example, you could have a variable set for particular posts which would have a summary (different from the actual post content), and you could check that value using a script in your template. If that variable exists with a value, make the post expandable, else show it as normal! This could be done by associating blogIDs and postIDs with a variable name using a little PHP coding, but it's too much effort when it could be done by Blogger very easily!

But let's not get sidetracked... the point is that finally you're getting data out of Blogger, from Blogger! No more scraping pages with PHP scripts or other paraphernalia to get content out of them! :D

What's the use?

The uses are limited by your creativity. The first thing that comes to your mind is recent comments, and scripters jumped the opportunity to come up with a widget for it! Next would be post summariesI have worked on and now developed an Asynchronous loading of expandable posts. It just needs to be tweaked so that it can be easily added to any kind of template alike. I hope to release it soon., but a way to do this won't be immediately clear. I use the JSON version of their feeds to write out posts in the left hand side panel below, but you can do whatever you feel comfortable with (including syndicating it through the in built Feed Syndication widget :)) There is nothing you can't do when you have the data to work with!

I am extremely happy with how things are looking as far as the feeds front goes, and the power it gives us. Let's see what we can come up with for the lovely gifts Blogger Clause has got us! :P

As pointed out with a question by Deepak, a feed for the in-blog search has not been discovered / offered yet. I hope this changes in the future, because that will call for some neat stuff. In the meantime, you can use the feed from blogsearch.google/blogger.com (either/or) and convert it via Singpolyma's Outline Converter to JSON. That works brilliantly! :)

Update: It seems as though none of the known GData parameters work with Blogger feeds. No num, count, sort, nothing. Things aren't 'as' great as I thought! If you think this is a false negative, let me know!


Deepak said...

Did you find the feed for the built-in search results?

It is not working if I follow the standard GData queries.

Aditya said...

Arr... no! :( I couldn't find it, and trying to use the different ways that Google uses to create their feed URLs, I can conclude that it doesn't exist.

However, what you can do is convert the blog search URL (restricted to your blog) to a JSON and use it. But again, there is no native way from Blogger to do this. You'll have to use Singpolyma's Outline Converter.

But ofcourse, I could be wrong. Do some hunting around (I can't, cuz my exams are on), and do tell me if you find something! Sorry! :(

phydeaux3 said...

On search feeds

The blogger data api docs say that blogger queries are in the base set of the google api.
Blogger query parameters

The google data api's say (at least how I interpret them) that querying a feed with a search request should be available, ala
http://yourblog.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?q=search %20term


But so far it's never worked (error processing your request is the result). I haven't seen any mention on whether it's coming, or if it won't be supported on Blogger.

phydeaux3 said...

D'oh, just noticed that Deepak was following the standard GDATA queries, so my response probably wasn't very helpful. :-)

I thought I was adding something new, nevermind.

Deepak said...

I spent one whole day digging into Google API documentation and doing lots of trial and error with the URLs in my blog.

Yes. I did think of Outline converter, and am a big fan of the app, but I'm not a very big fan of ning. :D

I even tried to filter the full posts feed, thinking that the 'q=' parameter would work here, as it was GData, but it didn't work.

Anyway, let's hope someone comes up with a solution.

Avatar said...

Yeah, i remember when it first predicted that, people where saying comments like: feeds are stupid, and why would anyone want such a thing.