Dynamic Blogroll for WordPress

Blogger has a great feature which is the envy of many a WordPress user. Are you reading Mr Calypso? This one is, perhaps, particularly for you. Bloggers like to keep a list of their favourite fellow bloggers in the sidebar, but only Blogger provides a built in widget which is automatically updated to show the most recent post at the top. I have been promising to try and find a way to replicate this in WordPress for an awfully long time, without ever getting around to it.

I was pretty sure the solution would be a pretty simple RSS based widget. In the end the solution was exactly what I thought it would be. Not quite a simple as Google’s built in Blogger widget. But just as effective and truth be told, it’s not much work. Requirement number one is to choose a feed reader and load in all the websites/blogs that you wish to be included in your widget. I’ve gone for Inoreader but any reader will do providing it enables you to make a folder public with it’s own RSS feed. Quick tip – when adding feeds manually, make sure you hit the + button not the magnifying glass, which is what I kept doing. Much to my frustration. It won’t work.  Enter the URL of the blog and hit enter. Voila.

Step two is to create a folder by right clicking on the Subscriptions text in the left hand bar. Then drag and drop all your feeds into it. I just called mine ‘feeds’. Once you have done this, right click on your new folder and click on Manage Folders. You’ll get a pop up window, and your feed folder should be listed in there. To the right of the folder it will say RSS Feed, in between a couple of other bits of text. You’ll need to right click on that and Copy Link. Done that? Cool, then we’re done with Inoreader.

In WordPress, you now simply need to add an RSS Widget to your sidebar, and in the options paste the RSS link that you just copied from Inoreader. You’re done. You now have a dynamic blogroll and need to envy Blogger bloggers no more. You can of course customise your widget, choosing whether the widget displays content or just links and how many posts you want displayed. The maximum is 20. And of course you will want to bookmark your feed reader in case you want to go back and add some new blogs or delete some old ones. It is a slightly more cumbersome approach that with Blogger, but once done maintenance is pretty close to nil. Unless Inoreader goes belly up and disappears, of course.  There are some screenshots at the bottom to provide a little extra help. By the by, your blogroll will initially be dominated by a single blogger. Fear not, as new posts are published, this will right itself. Give it a day or two.

I have put my own dynamic blogroll into action. The usual suspects are there as far as Mexican based (or wannabe based) bloggers go. They need no introduction. I’ve also included Ian Visits, one of the most informative and interesting London blogs going. Ben’s Prison Blog is there too, although his posting has been significantly less prolific since release. The title of his blog also appears to be less than accurate these days too, althought the additional tagline of ‘Lifer on the Loose’ does go someway to making amends. I’ve even included a brand new blog, which is struggling to get off the ground. The author sits two desks down from me at work. The blog is titled EG Cramer. That sets a tone, with a double initial, doesn’t it? We’ll just have to wait to see if there is a potential Wodehouse, Rowling or Salinger in the making. I wish him well!

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19 comments

    1. It’s really not so difficult! The most time consuming part is adding your feeds to Inoreader. Unless you already have the feeds bunched up in an OPML file. But now maybe I could start to complicate matters….

      But realistically, it could be done within 20 minutes. And once done, it’s a piece of cake to maintain.

    2. I’m sure you will ‘get it’. But if you don’t, let me know. I’m sure I could convert your blogroll into a dynamic blogroll for you and provide you with the RSS link you need.

  1. I’ve always been mystified why WordPress doesn’t make this easy for people. If you Google the WordPress forums, this seems to be one of the most-requested features extant. And EVERYONE basically says, “Blogger does this, why not you?” And WordPress always comes back with some kind of BS answer. And the reason I think it’s BS is that the WordPress Reader basically almost already does this. So you’ve got to imagine that with the most minor of code-tweaking that it’d be easy.

    I’ll have to give your solution a try. I’m assuming it doesn’t require any customizations?

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’ve got a ton of stuff to do besides blog posts.

    1. So I’ve basically done this. Here are a few comments from my experience. When you set up the RSS widget in WordPress, under the How many items would you like to display? make sure you select one. That number controls how many posts from each site show up on your side bar. I had initially selected “20,” but then got 20 entries from the first blog, and there was no room for the rest.

      The second comment or quibble is this. The blogroll displays the name of the most recent post, but it does not display the name of the blog, displaying the author’s name instead.. Do you know any way to get the name of the blog posted?

      As an aside, I’ve wondered about setting up a sort of “dummy blog” on blogger, creating the blogroll there, and then somehow importing that into WordPress. Any thoughts?

      Saludos,

      Kim

      1. OK, I’m not sure that what I wrote about “how many items to display” is correct. But the problem I’m having is that the last 20 posts of one of my blogging buddies are showing up on the reader. I went to Inoreader and marked them all as “read,” but they’re still showing up.

        I think there’re still a few bugs to work out in this, but thanks nonetheless for having given us a roadmap to try to make this work.

        1. It’s not a bug, it’ll work itself out in a day or two. When you add a feed to Inoreader, it’ll mark the publish time/date of each imported post with the time/date you imported it. So the blog roll will initially show up the posts from a single feed. As new posts are published, they’ll rise to the top.

        2. Thanks for the clarification. Great post, by the way. I think it will become one of your top posts, if I’m correct about the desire of the WordPress community to have this feature. They could do worse than make it a “Freshly Pressed” entry.

      2. The author issue is due to the WordPress widget. It’s not really an issue, it’s just how it works. Any fix would need to be in Inoreader. I’m not convinced it is possible but I’ll have a look later.

        1. No, it can’t be done. Not as far as I can see. In fact, all I managed to do was screw up the feed in my sidebar! But that will right itself as new posts come it.

    2. It would be incredibly easy for WordPress to implement a built in dynamic blog roll. The tech is already there with RSS in their readers and widget. It’s just laziness.

  2. OK, I’ve implemented this, and it’s chugging through posts as people make them. But I think that it might be best to set up the InoReader feeds first. Then, wait a few days. Then install the widget onto your blog. By then it should show up properly the first time, no? Then you don’t have to have the shakedown period showing up on your blog.

    Do you agree that this would work?

    K G
    in B

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