Category Archives: wordpress

Orbital Feed Reader 0.1.9 Codenamed “BORN FREE” is out!

Last night I pushed out the final changes to uncage version 0.1.9 and get it out in the wild.
MAX LAZER tears off on his own  to explore Oregon

This version is mostly about giving you freedom. You should be able to easily import your stuff from other platforms into Orbital Feed Reader to use it. If you decide that you don’t want to use Orbital Feed Reader any more, you should have an easy way to leave. Any software that doesn’t tell you how to leave it is something you should be suspicious of.

Get Feeds IN

Share your OPML

For Feed Readers, the standard way to exchange lists of subscriptions is a standard called OPML. It’s an old format, but it’s how they all exchange lists of feeds. I’ve buffed up the OPML import to handle larger numbers of feeds. After you import the file you have a chance to look over the feeds and edit them, tag them or exclude them entirely. Hit save and they’ll all flow into the backend.

 

Get Feeds OUT

But we also don’t want Orbital to be a lobster trap for you. If you import that kind of data I also want you to be able to export that kind of data. Now Orbital is good at exporting your feeds. If you are logged in – we’ll export a file with all your public and private subscriptions and let you take that wherever you want. Some folks want to share their OPML publicly – if you aren’t logged in, hitting the same URL gives you only the public feeds. All your private stuff should stay safe!

Read Lotsa Feeds

Now that Orbital can handle tons of feeds coming in I wanted it to be easy to actually sort through them. Feed Tags now start off collapsed and you can expand them anytime by using the little twiddlers next to each. That’s a technical term. The twiddlers make it much more manageable to see 200 feeds over many subject areas.

Press for Orbital

Two new reviews for Orbital bring a smile to my face!
WordPress Plugins A-Z gave Orbital a 4/5 rating:

This is a great feed reader especially if you are doing research for a post or if you are like many people out there who write additional articles based on what they read. This make it easy to get a pull quote from an article and drop it right into a post. While the layout and functionality is a little raw in its appearance it seems to work very well and to give it a good go I added it to my secret blog site as a place to test some ranting on article and stories. And it seems to work quite well..

That’s great feedback and I feel like I do need to work on the style and appearance – it’s tough and I need help.

Jeff Chandler over at WPTavern also reviewed Orbital, comparing it to Feedly and Google Reader. It’s a lukewarm review – he doesn’t like the interface and feels like Feedly plus PressThis is find for him. Still, he’s offered to help me by looking at revamps of the interface.

Orbital Reader is live

After a lot of subway rides and wednesday nights, you can now install the best feed reader for WordPress right from your wordpress admin panel.

Once you are logged into your wordpress admin screen:

  1. Click Plugins
  2. Click Add New
  3. Search the Codex for “Orbital”
  4. Install Plugin
  5. Activate Plugin

The plugin should show you where it is, tell you how to use it, and away you go!

THE WORLD IS yOURS

It’s early days on this thing, so please tell me what’s difficult, what’s wrong, what could be improved.

Unicode Icons in Orbital

Font icons are kind of fashionable in web development these days. What’s awesome about them is that you get all the clever wonderful benefits of how good browsers are at rendering webfonts. In a way, a web font used for font icons is like a png sprite for SVGs – you get one server round trip and then a bunch of reusable images.

It’s a good idea if you need to show some custom icons. Me, I’m too cheap for that. For Orbital I’m trying to make sure that there is a very small footprint. Rather than using a custom web font I’m just getting creative with the unicode tables.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 5.40.43 PM

As far as I can tell, unicode has some pretty easy to understand symbols for add (+), refresh(⟳) and edit(✎). So I get decent, scalable icons for zero server round trips!

Wordprss is now Orbital Feed Reader

When I talked with Aaron about the name of the feed reader for WordPress I’m working on, he pointed out that it seems awfully close to the actual name WordPress. It also is impossible to say. I asked lots of folks for new name ideas, this is the one that stuck for me.

Orbital, because:

  • You can see a lot from orbit
  • I really like the band

  • It is easy to say and there isn’t a feed reader already named Orbital

In other news, I’m working with folks to install it on their servers and show them how to use it. Be my Alpha Tester, please!

How to export a data file from a WordPress plugin

As part of my hacking on WordPrss, I got to a point where I wanted to let folks import and export OPML files.
Exporting a file from a WordPress plugin doesn’t seem to be very well documented. I found an older article about it – here’s my take.

Provide a link to the file export

Export the data

This file isn’t getting included in through the normal wordpress mechanisms, so it has to do some more work than the rest of your plugin does. If you want to use the $wpdb or other handy wordpress items, you have to include those in.
I was about to hack up a way to include wp-config.php or wp-load.php when I ran across the simply named Don’t Include WP-Load, Please. He recommends a clever way to handle it all within wordpress, which I quite like. See below.

Now you can build out your export file – in this case export_opml.php – knowing that all of the WordPress utilities are there for you to use.

How to migrate your WordPress Blog between hosts.

My boss Mike needed to move his wine review blog from a friend’s hosting on lunarpages. I suggested he try dreamhost and he liked it – in a few minutes he had signed up for a free trial and used their 1-click install to set up a new install of wordpress.

Before he moved his domain to point from lunarpages to dreamhost I got him to prep by writing down a few important pieces of info. I’m trying to make sure I make this easier for other friends like I did when I helped Tove’s Thread For Thought move from WordPress.org to her own host.

Things to do before you change your domain to point to your new hosting

      Write down the name of your THEME. If you want to use the same theme, it’s important to write this down before you make the switch.
      Export your blog content from wordpress.
      Download your images. The wordpress export guide pretends this is easy, but it isn’t. If you are using the same domain name, I’m not sure what the easy way to do this is.

How to download your images

I wrote a python script that does this for you.
Make sure your system supports python. Next install BeautifulSoup – a great html parser for python.
Once that’s done, download this little script and change home and filesUrl to be your domain name.
Run the script, it should crawl your domain and download all of the images you host. Now follow the same steps of editing your export if needed and upload it all into your new blog at your new domain.

Hope that helps!

WordPrss – Subscribing to feeds is done

I’ve been plugging away at WordPrss on hacknights and subway rides and I have some progress to show for it.

I can show a feed, and shortcut keys help you navigate backwards and forwards through them. Clicking on a feed marks it as read. By default we hide read items, but you can always show them if you want.

You can manage the details of individual feeds – you can rename them etc.

Adding new feeds works and while I was at it I put in feed autodiscovery. Say you want to subscribe to a site but you just have the URL for the site.

Wordprss will do its best to figure out what feeds the site offers.

Choose one and away you go!

Now that this bit is done I’ll be working on getting the updating to work properly. Soon I’ll be ready to install it up on a server. Just got to sort through security and make sure the upgrade process is sorted…