Create a Custom Feed Reader with Blogger Blog List

Have you ever wanted an easy way of showing a simple feed of your favorite sites within your blog? Blogger has a cool new feature called Blog List for Blogger blogs, and even if you are using Movable Type, or another blogging platform, you can make use of this Blogger feature to pull feeds into your blog.

Here's what it looks like on my site - Simply Recipes: Food Blog Updates:

updates-screen-shot.jpg

Which is driven off of this Blogspot page: http://foodbloglinks.blogspot.com/.

It's very easy to set up. Here are the steps in detail:

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MultiBlog and Upgrading to MT4

If you use the MultiBlog plugin by David Rayners and you upgrade to MT4, when you go to rebuild your site, you may get the following error message:

"Publish error in template 'Main Index': No handler exists for tag MultiBlogEntries"

The MultiBlog functionality is now part of MT4. All you have to do to update your templates is to change every instance of the tags MTMultiBlogEntries or MTMulitBlog to MTEntries and rebuild your templates.

So <MTMultiBlogEntries include_blogs="2,5" lastn="10"> and </MTMultiBlogEntries> become <MTEntries include_blogs="2,5" lastn="10"> and </MTEntries>.

Get An Email List of All Authors On Your System

This article was first published at Movable Tweak.

This little snip of code will dump out a list of all the users and their email addresses on your install in a comma-delimited format that you can easily import into your email client. It’s particularly useful on larger installs:

<mt:Authors include_blogs="all">
    <mt:IfNonEmpty tag="AuthorEmail">
        <mt:IfNonEmpty tag="AuthorDisplayName">"<mt:AuthorDisplayName />" </mt:IfNonEmpty>
        &lt;<mt:AuthorEmail />&gt;,
    </mt:IfNonEmpty>
</mt:Authors>

And the Authors tag allows for all sorts of cool filtering attributes so you can get at any group of authors in the system, ordered however you like:

  • display_name: Specifies a particular author to select.
  • lastn: Limits the selection of authors to the specified number.
  • sortby: Supported values: displayname, name, created_on.
  • sort_order: Supported values: ascend, descend.
  • roles: comma separated list of values. eg “Author, Commenter”
  • need_entry: 1 | 0 (default is 1)
  • status: Supported values: enabled, disabled. Default is enabled.

Note: Some people have asked about creating an email list of all the commenters on the system, and it’s very simple. The code stays the same, but you just need to specify roles=”Commenter” and need_entry=”0” (since most commenters won’t have written an entry). Here’s the code to do it:

 <mt:Authors include_blogs="all" roles="Commenter" need_entry="0" sort_by="display_name"><mt:IfNonEmpty tag="AuthorEmail"><mt:IfNonEmpty tag="AuthorDisplayName">"<mt:AuthorDisplayName />" </mt:IfNonEmpty>&lt;<mt:AuthorEmail />&gt;, </mt:IfNonEmpty>
 </mt:Authors>

Notice the code is much more compressed than the code given previously. If you tried the previous code, you probably noticed that the spacing is crazy because of all the hard returns and spaces we have in there. This second set of code I posted will give you a highly compact list of email addresses than can literally be copied and pasted into an email client.

Just make sure you use this for good, not evil.

Upgrading to MT4

Over the last few major version changes, Learning Movable Type has published guides to upgrading safely, without risk of messing up your blog. The most recent tutorial was A Safe Way to Upgrade to MT3.3.

The three main steps that still hold for safely upgrading to MT4 (from MT3) are:

  1. Make a back up of your database.
  2. Make sure all the plugins you use for your site have upgrades that are compatible with the new version.
  3. Install MT into a new directory in your cgi-bin. Do NOT overwrite your existing MT directory.

The Movable Type ProNet community has done a stellar job in outlining everything you need to know to do a successful upgrade to MT4. These instructions can be found at the MT Community Wiki in the Community Generated Upgrade Guide.

Please see the instructions at the Community Wiki for the specific details on how to safely upgrade your MT blog to MT version 4.

Creating a Google Toolbar Button for Your Blog

Creating a custom button for your blog to be used on the Google Toolbar is a great way to promote your blog. Once installed, the button can act as a graphical bookmark to your site. You and your readers can search your site using the search bar in the Google toolbar, without having to be on your site. In fact, you can highlight any text on any web page, click on your custom icon in the browser, and you will perform a search the text you just highlighted on your blog. The custom button can even list your last several entries, with data pulled from your feed.

Google toolbar example

I recently updated my Google toolbar for Simply Recipes and created a new one for a new site, Food Blog Search. (If you want to see the Google Toolbar in action, follow the instructions to add a button on the Food Blog Search site.) Google's instructions for making a custom button can be convoluted and overwhelming. It took me several hours over several days to work out the correct code for the toolbars. So to save any of you similar pain, I'm presenting the steps here.

Step 1: Install Google Toolbar

The Google Toolbar requires using either IE or Firefox for your browser. Go to this page at Google to install it.

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