From Following Posts and Blogrolls (Following Pages) with OPML to Microsub Servers and Readers

From Following Posts and Blogrolls (Following Pages) with OPML to Microsub Servers and Readers

I’m still tinkering away at pathways for following people (and websites) on the open web (in my case within WordPress). I’m doing it with an eye toward making some of the UI and infrastructure easier in light of the current fleet of Microsub servers and readers that will enable easier social reading without the centralized reliance on services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium, LinkedIn, et al.

If you haven’t been following along, here are some relevant pieces for background:

Generally I’ve been adding data into my Following Page (aka blogroll on steroids) using the old WordPress Links Manager pseudo-manually. (There’s also a way to bulk import to it via OPML, using the WordPress Tools Menu or via /wp-admin/import.php?import=opml). The old Links Manager functionality in WordPress had a bookmarklet to add links to it quickly, though it currently only seems to add a minimal set–typically just the URL and the page title. Perhaps someone with stronger JavaScript skills than I possess could improve on it or integrate/leverage some of David Shanske’s Parse This work into such a bookmark to pull more data out of pages (via Microformats,, Open Graph Protocol, or Dublin Core meta) to pre-fill the Links Manager with more metadata including page feeds, which I now understand Parse This does in the past month or so. (If more than one feed is found, they could be added in comma separated form to the “Notes” section and the user could cut/paste the appropriate one into the feed section.) Since I spent some significant time trying to find/dig up that old bookmarklet, I’ll mention that it can be found in the Restore Lost Functionality plugin (along with many other goodies) and a related version also exists in the Link Library plugin, though on a small test I found it only pulled in the URL.

Since it wasn’t completely intuitive to find, I’ll include the JavaScript snippet for the Links Manager bookmarklet below, though note that the URL hard coded into it is for, so change that part if you’re modifying for your own use. (I haven’t tested it, but it may require the Press This plugin which replaces some of the functionality that was taken out of WordPress core in version 4.9. It will certainly require one to enable using the Links Manager either via code or via plugin.)


Since I’ve been digging around a bit, I’ll note that Yannick Lefebvre’s Link Library plugin seems to have a similar sort of functionality to Links Manager and adds in the ability to add a variety of additional data fields including tags, which Ton Zijlstra mentions he would like (and I wouldn’t mind either). Unfortunately I’m not seeing any OPML functionality in the plugin, so it wins at doing display (with a huge variety of settings) for a stand-alone blogroll, but it may fail at the data portability for doing the additional OPML portion we’ve been looking at. Of course I’m happy to be corrected, but I don’t see anything in the documentation or a cursory glance at the code.

In the most ideal world, I’d love to be able to use the Post Kinds Plugin to create follow posts (see my examples). This plugin is already able to generally use bookmarklet functionality to pull in a variety of meta data using the Parse This code which is also built into Post Kinds.

It would be nice if these follow posts would also copy their data into the Links Manager (to keep things DRY), so that the blogroll and the OPML files are automatically updated all at once. (Barring Post Kinds transferring the data, it would be nice to have an improved bookmarklet for pulling data into the Links Manager piece directly.)

Naturally having the ability for these OPML files be readable/usable by Jack Jamieson’s forthcoming Yarns Microsub Server for WordPress (for use with social readers) would be phenomenal. (I believe there are already one or two OPML to h-feed converters for Microsub in the wild.) All of this would be a nice end -to-end solution for quickly and easily following people (or sites) with a variety of feeds and feed types (RSS, Atom, JSONfeed, h-feed).

An additional refinement of the blogroll display portion would be to have that page display as an h-feed of h-entries each including properly marked up h-cards with appropriate microformats and discoverable RSS feeds to make it easier for other sites to find and use that data. (This may be a more IndieWeb-based method of displaying such a page compared with the OPML spec.) I’ll also note that the Links Manager uses v1 of the OPML spec and it would potentially be nice to have an update on that as well for newer discovery tools/methods like Dave Winer’s Share Your OPML Subscription list, which I’m noting seems to be down/not functioning at the moment.

From Following Posts and Blogrolls (Following Pages) with OPML to Microsub Servers and Readers was originally published on Chris Aldrich

An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 8 Interflux

An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 8 Interflux

Running time: 1h 23m 35s | Download (26.2 MB) | Subscribe by RSS

Summary: David Shanske and I recap the recent IndieWeb Summit 2018 in Portland Oregon including recent developments like microsub, readers, Vouch, and even the comeback of webrings!

Huffduff this Episode


Recap of IndieWeb Summit 2018

Vouch(🎧 00:7:13)

The Year of the Reader (🎧 00:38:32)

Webrings (🎧 00:59:03)

Aaron Parecki posts (🎧 1:12:10)

An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 8 Interflux was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Apologies Brad. I just saw your follow up post and had meant to reply to your earlier one when I saw it last week, I just didn’t have the time to write a quick response. I had hoped you might have found something even better than what I’ve put together previously or perhaps started building a newer and shinier edifice.

There is actually an excellent and solid “plugin” for creating a blogroll, but it’s actually been hiding in WordPress core for ages: the original Link Manager. Use of it declined so much it was programatically “removed”, but all the code is still in core, it still works wonderfully, and it only requires a single line of code (or the simplest plugin ever written) to re-enable it.

It was very solid and didn’t need much iteration, so it should work fine with current versions of WordPress–it certainly does on mine.

I’ve written up a bunch of details on how and what I did (as well as why), so hopefully it’ll give you a solid start including some custom code snippets and reasonably explicit directions to make some small improvements for those that may be a bit code-averse. Hint: I changed it from being a sidebar widget to making it a full page. Let us know if you need help making some of the small code related changes to get yourself sorted.

Even if you just want a plug and play plugin, there are details for that in the post as well, you’ll just be stuck with putting the blogroll into a traditional sidebar position. (With conditional statements in the sidebar widget, you  could restrict the blogroll widget to only displaying on a “Following” page, for example.)

I do think there is still a more IndieWeb way of doing this, potentially by making follow posts with mark up that could be parsed by microsub readers perhaps? Certainly dovetailing something with microsub seems to be a laudable goal. I would like to eventually dive into the Link Manager code and add some additional microformats as well as update the OPML to v2, but there’s enough back compatibility that the older version is fine for most use cases I’ve run across. I know David Shanske has some ideas about some changes he’d like to see in the future as well. You could always also go super low tech the way Greg did and have a blogroll post that you update over time, though perhaps a page is a better way to go? Updating things to be more automated is certainly a reasonable goal though.

Give it a spin and see what you think. Here’s my Following page (aka blogroll) with details at the very bottom for subcategories of OPML subscription. I’ll try to update the IndieWeb blogroll page with some of these details to make them more imminently findable as well.

Reply to Brad Enslen about Blogrolls in WordPress was originally published on Chris Aldrich