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Postalicious

by Rob Friesel

I get the feeling that I should really be titling this post “The Trials and Tribulations of Automating My Linkdumps”.  But now that I’ve set the tone…

For those unfamiliar with Del.icio.us1, it’s a social bookmarking app (and a Yahoo! property) that allows you to keep your bookmarks all online, in one place, and “tagged” for easy categorization.  Add in the description field on top of that and you have a pretty neat utility.  While I don’t use Del.icio.us’ social component all that much2, I do use the tagging quite a bit.  And when I discovered that you could set it up to automatically dump (nee “post”) your links from the day onto your blog…  Well, I was sold.

Too bad that feature has always been marked “experimental”.  And too bad that feature started flaking out something serious right around the time Del.icio.us became “Delicious.com”.

“Experimental” or not — this feature was borked.  Busted.  Broken.

After poking around a little bit, I found the Postalicious plug-in for WordPress that appears to provide me with an alternative to the experimental baked-in post-to-blog features in Del.icio.us.  By all accounts, it appeared to be a superior alternative.  It appeared to be much more powerful and much more flexible.  It offered ways to customize the title of your auto-posted links, to control the timing of these posts, to control the minimum and maximum links in each post, and it allowed you ways to style your links and to otherwise control their formatting.  Needless to say, I decided to give it a trial run.

But I got off to a bit of a rocky start with Postalicious:

  1. The plug-in does not post when I expect it to.  I configured it to post once per day around 8pm.  Instead, it seems to favor posting once per day around 10am.  As far as I can tell, this doesn’t have anything to do with the Greenwich Mean offset.
  2. It does not read in any of the tags.  Not without over-writing WordPress’ built-in RSS features.  Sure, the Postalicious download includes an “rss.php” file that we can use to get this working.  But I’d really prefer not to over-write a core WordPress file for this.
  3. I’m also not sure I have a whole lot of confidence in the plug-in’s ability to manage the titles that go into dates very well.  I get what “%dateend%” is (for example) but as far as I can tell, there’s too much opportunity for Postalicious to create two consecutive posts on different days with the same title (e.g., “Linkdump for August 12th” on the 12th and then “Linkdump for August 12th” on the 13th) just because the most recent link was posted on the day before.

On the surface it looks like my desired scenario should be supported.  I want: one post per day that posts around 8pm, is titled “Linkdump for %todaysDate%”, contains the links from the past 24 hours, and follows the formatting that I’ve been using for the past year or so with the title of the link, the description, and the tags listed underneath.

Postalicious gets us pretty close.  It’s posting once per day as desired, although the timing is a little off.  And it’s posting the links in the format that I want, although it can’t read the tags correctly without the modified rss.php getting installed.  Thus far, it has not given me two posts in a row with the same title; but I’ve been adding links to Del.icio.us pretty aggressively lately and I could see how — when I inevitably slack off again — it might very well happen.

Conclusion thus far?  It seems to be a better solution than relying on the very-flaky-to-date posting apparatus that’s baked into Delicious.com.  I’m not convinced that this is the best solution but it’s the best one I’ve found so far.  I certainly haven’t turned up anything else that comes close.  I hate to say “I’ll settle for ‘good enough’ when I can’t find ‘good'” but that seems to be the case.  I’ve toyed around with it for a little under a week and have gotten passable results; I’ll play with the configuration a little more, see how well it holds up over the next 30 days.

But I’m open to suggestions.

  1. Now “Delicious.com” but you’ll always be “Del.icio.us” to me. []
  2. I’ve shared a few bookmarks and had more than a few shared “to” me; but the “social” aspect is definitely in the background for me. Especially since, in all honesty, isn’t Google’s “relevance” and Quality Score business just another social index anyway? []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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