Friday, 19 August 2011

Finally, a blogroll

In case you hadn't noticed, this blog isn't on Blogger or Wordpress or Tumblr or Posterous or any of the others. It's lovingly (sometimes grudgingly) hand-coded by yours truly and, I like to think, all the better for it. And whilst I manage to fashion reasonable approximations of most "proper" blog features, like RSS feeds, commenting, permalinks and so on, the one omission that has always irked me is the absence of a blogroll on here. I read a number of blogs regularly - they're good, and I want to share them with you.

In the past, I've experimented with all manner of third-party solutions to this, mostly Javascripts, but none of them ever did everything I wanted. Specifically, I wanted to: combine posts from multiple blogs into one feed; only pull back the newest post from each of those blogs; display the blog name, post title and beginning of the post; display an icon for each entry in the feed; sort the feed in descending date order; and have the feed "widget" scroll. Not too much to ask, is it? Well obviosuly it was, because no third-party solution I tried could do all of that to my satisfaction (I'm hard to please).

So... I suddenly remembered I'm an IT guy by trade, and made my own solution. First off, I used the quite excellent Yahoo Pipes to combine the 20 feeds I want to share with you, take the latest post from each and sort them appropriately. One of the output options in Pipes is RSS, so I then took that and punted it into Surfing Waves' excellent, free and highly customisable feed widget. This gave me a Javascript that I could embed in my blog and that, after a few tweaks of my own to make the sizing work better, Bob's your uncle. Okay, so the sizing still isn't great in Internet Explorer because IE (up to version 8 at least) isn't properly standards compliant. I guess I could have written some "if this browser then this resizing code else that resizing code" into the Javascript but, to be honest, I don't really have the time. Besides, I was trying to keep the Javascript short and sweet.

I know, unless you're a techie or a web-designer none of the above is very interesting. But I'll tell you what is interesting: all the blogs on the right-hand side of this page, that's what. Go and read them!


  1. I'm just glad to be included.

  2. Post-script - obviously this blog is now on Blogger. I gave up fighting The Man.