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Thursday, April 25, 2002

OPML Viewer / Rendered Updates

I just added support for:

  • a decent looking error page for when the OPML file can be loaded
  • correct link generation through the renderer when the link is to an opml file (i.e. link to the opml file will now be rendered)

comment [] 5:19:25 PM    

Latest OPML Update!  View Live Instant Outlines from

Here's the latest feature that I just added to my OPML home page, choose your Instant Outline to view loaded live from the master registry of Instant Outlines at

View Instant Outlines!

Master OPML Page

comment [] 11:15:13 AM    

And then the Community Leaped into Action

Wow.  Its just amazing how quickly a real community can get something done when they think its important.  What I'm referring to is my proposal for a fairly stupid distributed OPML renderer in PHP.  This has now sucked in resources from the following people and locations (assuming that the Whois information is correct):

  • Me - Boston
  • Ray Hunter - Salt Lake City
  • Tony Collen - Minnesota
  • Mark Hersberger - New Orleans
  • kjartan Mannes - Oslo, Norway

If that isn't community -- a group of disparate people pulling together in a good cause, I don't know what is.  Here's the overall chronology as to how it all happened:

  • Tuesday night --  I read in about the need for an OPML renderer to HTML w/o the need for lots of hardware (i.e. NOT a centralized app)
  • Tuesday night -- I whip out a fairly stream of consciousness proposal for a php based OPML renderer based on a central redirector that just forks requests to different boxes at random.  I chose PHP since it's fast, easy and runs pretty much everywhere without the installation problems often found with Perl scripts.
  • Tuesday night -- I ground out the basic framework including the JavaScript and HTML for expand / collapse, created the icons and etc.  I started down the XML parsing road but got hung up and just staggered upstairs to bed.
  • Wednesday morning -- I realized that I'd get farther quicker by dragging in what additional resources I could.  Hmm....
  • Wednesday morning -- A Yahoo IM popped up for me from kjartanmannes, the creator of the Drupal open source content management system,  He and I discussed this for a while and he put some damn good thinking into a few lines of IM outlining [grin] the issues with in place expansion of OPML.  This is something I hadn't even thought about (I said it was stream of consciousness).  Thanks kjartanmannes (sorry I forgot your name and only have your Yahoo handle). 
  • Wednesday afternoon -- I see that Ray Hunter's online.  Ray's a very smart guy,, and I know that he has some time on his hands (see here) right now (someone hire him quick) so I asked him a few questions.  Ray gave me some great help that, for reasons of my own, I just wasn't able to get working.
  • Wednesday evening -- After returning from dinner and grinding out a big chunk of a proposal, another IM popped up, this time from Mark Hersberger.  He had a working OPML renderer, an OPML CSS and an OPML XSL all done and working!   Hot damn!  He very helpfully gave me some support and let me add his stuff into mine.  Sigh.  Still no luck for my work but who cares?  I can give up the ego hit of my own stuff not working as long as someone else's does.
  • Thursday morning -- I wake up to find an email from Tony Collen who took pretty much the exact approach that I described and made it work!  Wow.  This is cool.  Now what I have to do is write this up, build a link page and send it out.

The whole thing and an OPML Rendered to Use with Your Outlines is here


            View this Outline!

            My sincere thanks to everyone involved!  Any errors here are my own and I apologize if I munged anyone's name, etc.  Let me know and I'll fix it.  If my posting this, my opml page or such bothers anyone, let me know and you can be removed.  Tony, Great job here.  Thanks for writing what I wanted and just couldn't get done in the time that I had.

            Here's a real question for this community moving forward: How can we get this kind of ad hoc development project done without some of the overlap here or is that ok?  This did get a lot of people forking different approaches at the problem and that's not bad.  Competition is _GOOD_.  Look what it produced here!


            comment [] 8:01:27 AM    

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