Announcing WordPress plugin Share From Tiny Tiny RSS in beta

September 15th, 2013

I follow a few RSS feeds on my phone using Tiny Tiny RSS and its Android-based companion ttrss. There are three qualities you can toggle about a given story: read, star, or published. I typically star items I want to follow-up on and publish items I want to link to here. It is annoying to open a bunch of tabs and copy-paste URLs. Tiny Tiny RSS has an API, so I wrote some code to eliminate that annoyance. I gave it the extraordinarily creative name Share from Tiny Tiny RSS. Download Share from Tiny Tiny RSS.

Moments after this post is published, this blog will feature the first-ever production use of this script. Hoorah! History in the making! Loud exhaling that sounds like a crowd approving!

I’m calling it a beta because I’d like to do a little more testing before I gloat. Unless somebody finds some bugs (which is unlikely given that this blog has approximately 1 reader, who is also its author and the plugins only tester/user and, incidentally, is both brilliant and humble), I’ll upload it to WordPress’ plugin directory and announce it on my professional site.

EDIT 9/16/2013: I have since announced an updated version on my professional site.

A vocab note: An article on a blog is called a post. This plugin can accurately be describe as creating a post based on a list of posts, but the term “post” gets ambiguous pretty quickly. In minimize confusion, I’ve taken to referring to the list of posts generated by Tiny Tiny RSS as stories. I only use the word “post” to refer to the article this plugin creates on your WordPress blog.

This plugin will add 2 pages to the admin sidebar, one under Settings, the other under Posts. Both pages have the name Share from Tiny Tiny RSS.

  • The settings page pretty much just saves your credentials and allows you to test their validity and create a test post. Creating a test post is exactly the same as going to the Posts->Share from Tiny Tiny RSS.
  • The one under Posts is where the action happens. It will show you a very rough preview of the contents of the post, and if you like it, you can save it. Otherwise you can navigate away.

Features

  • Create posts as drafts or publish immediately.
  • “Un-publish” stories that were included in the post. If post-creation fails, it won’t un-publish your stories, minimizing your chances of data loss.
  • If you use Tiny Tiny RSS anyway, this plugin makes it easy to create fresh-content for your blog with minimal effort, which makes it great for a blog’s SEO.

Known issues

  • If your Tiny Tiny RSS instance is at http://example.org/ttrss, then your API is at http://example.org/ttrss/api. This does not check for /api at the end – it’s up to you to remember to add it.
  • It does not support multiple users – it stores one set of credentials only. You cannot currently have two WordPress users with separate TTRSS installs.
  • Although ttrss on my phone supports marking items as published with a comment, I’m not seeing my comments returned in the API. That may be because I’m running an old version of Tiny Tiny RSS. Either way, this plugin will be a lot more useful if/when it can join your comment with your link.
  • It stores your Tiny Tiny RSS credentials in plain text.
  • There is a race condition: When you first go to the Posts->Share from Tiny Tiny RSS page, it will generate a rough preview of what your story will look like. If you mark an item as “published” after generating your preview, then save the post, it will contain the newly-published story.

Future features

Besides fixing the known issues indicated above, I have a list about a long list of proposed changes. The highlights include:

  • Automatically creating a new post at a specified interval – This was actually how this post originally worked, but I found it to be buggy in my test environment. In my dev version of this plugin – not (yet?) released – has this mostly implemented already. It will also offer to only create the post if there’s some minimum number of articles marked as published.
  • Introductory text at the beginning the post – Allow the user to set some blurb they’d like to have appear at the beginning of each post this plugin creates.
  • Allow the user to set their own subject.
  • Automatically attach tags/category to newly-created post.

Acknowledgements

While creating this plugin, I referenced code in the following plugins:

I originally wanted to license this under Affero, but that means that each post it creates would have to have a way to download the plugin, so that users seeing it used over the Internet would be able to download it too. That seemed like a level of text spam that just wasn’t worth it. If you feel like putting such a footer in your post, I would be tickled. That said, I don’t plan to.

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