Now syndicating feeds

posted in: Updates | 2

For more genetically engineered goodness!

For almost a year we have been anticipating this. It was one of the specific items that I brought up during the Changemakers contest as to why we needed the grant money. I’m talking, of course, about the ability to syndicate feeds from contributor’s blogs – but not only that – to have it automatic, hands-free, and self-formatting for this blog. Like many a layperson might be able to imagine a genetically engineered plant that they would not know how to transform, setting up this capability was beyond the coding abilities of the geneticists editing this blog. I for one, have learned about html and php through fiddling as a geneticist might make a mutation and study its downstream effects. Although the metaphor may seem backwards, it makes perfect sense to me to see lines of computer code as if they were analogous to genes and not the other way around. 🙂 But like many genes in a genome database, there’s no easy annotation for special features for blog plugins that don’t yet exist. Rather than wait for natural variation to give something for bloggers to select for, we had to call on the help of an intelligent designer to produce it ex nihilo.

Charles Johnson created the highly versatile plugin, FeedWordpress, which allows you to subscribe to feeds on other blogs to import their posts into your own. It was perfect for a group blog like Biofortified with authors that already have their own blogs to manage, except it imported the whole post without any pleasing front-page breaks. I got in touch with Charles and he agreed to design us a special modification for FeedWordpress that will automatically insert “more” tags where we want them to, after a certain number of words, paragraphs, or where the original break was inserted on the imported post. This took a little chunk of cash from our grant, but that’s what it is for, after all! When we got to arranging the deal, Charles was very quick and thorough and it appears to be working perfectly! While testing it on our near-isogenic testing server, rather than having any errors itself, the modification helped me diagnose errors on the testing server instead! A big thanks to Charles for helping us transform (pun intended) our blog! I fully expect that others will be able to benefit from this modification in future releases of his plugin add-ons.

I just activated the plugin on the blog. Now, David Tribe and Pam Ronald will be able to have posts that they choose cross-post from their blogs effortlessly, and that is only just the beginning. As we gather more regular contributors, we can add more blogs to the syndication roster. I have set up David’s feed, and it has already imported several of his posts. For some reason, the most recent two that he selected have not imported, but that may be because the plugin thought they were already imported. I encourage you to check out one that was missed, on the World Wildlife Fund and its position on GE. I’ll keep a close eye on the continuous update process to make sure his posts are coming through properly in the future. But if you’ll look a few posts below this one, you’ll find some very troublesome news about public grape disease research involving genetic engineering being vandalized in France. It will be great to have the news that David scours from the ‘net showing up here as well!

Pam is also ready to go:  Science Blogs has made a special feed that she can assign posts to that will lead to here. I’m waiting on (hopefully) just one little modification before I set it to blast our blog with her gene gun full of commentary. While you can comment on David’s posts here, comments for Pam’s posts will be sent to her blog.

Happy blogging, and let us know if you see any glitches.

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:

Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.