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Feed Titles Habari Plugin

May 1, 2013

Most people should know I have started making plugins for Habari. However, support for some of those plugins has ended in favor of a new plugin that I created. Today, I will be talking about the new plugin, which is called Feed Titles.

As I have stated on this blog before, the Habari User Manual states that Habari has feeds for various different things, which ranges from the latest post on the blog to the latest post on a certain topic, and even feeds for the latest comments on either posts or pages or the entire blog. However, all these feeds contain the same feed name and the description, or subtitle as it is known in the Atom standard.

Because they all are named the same and have the same description, it can easily make people confused as to what they are subscribing to in their feed aggregators. Yes, comment feed do say what post the comments are from, but one still will not be able to tell the difference between the main comment feed and a post/page comment feed.

In order to remedy this issue, I made a total of three plugins, which are the following:

I have already discussed the first two in their respective posts, but since I have not discussed the third, I think I will tell you guys what it did, as it will be important to know how this newer plugin works. The Comment Title plugin was based off the Post Title plugin. Its main function renamed Habari's main comment feed to a particular title, instead of appending a post name or tag name, though it does append something to the feed title like my first two. The Comment Title functioned like the other plugins, but dealt with Habari's main comment feed and appended a particular word, instead of something retrieved by Habari.

As nice as it was that I had plugins, however. It is inconvenient to have to download and install 2-3 plugins that seem to have similar functions, which you guys may have noticed from my post about my second plugin. As such, I decided that it was time to start merging these plugins into one.

The result of merging these plugins into one is the plugin that I want to talk about.

The Feed Titles plugin, because it merges the functionality of my first three plugins, manipulates the titles and subtitles of all of Habari's Atom feeds, except for the main feed.

Since there are screenshots on this blog that demonstrates what is done by most of what this plugin does, I will skip the demonstration part and move on to explaining things.

Let us say that you got any one of the three original plugins. With only one of them activated, only one feed is manipulated at a time, with exception of the Post Title plugin, which I found out in making this plugin will also affect feeds for pages. This all fine, if users are not going to be subscribing to any other feeds. However, one cannot be sure, especially myself, about what people want to subscribe to on a blog. This means that one will have to download, install, and maintain three separate plugins to cover every single type feed Habari has. Who exactly would want to do that? I sure would not, though having three separate plugins does make things easier when one wants to have a reference point for merging them together. Being required to download a lot of plugins to fix something is a pain.

However, with this one plugin, there is no need to maintain any additional plugins, or even download and install them. Upon activation, all the feeds, except the main feed, as I said earlier, will have their titles and subtitles changed, in order to make things much more clear to people who are looking to subscribe to certain content. The Feed Titles plugin allows the number of plugins needed to make things easier for people to be reduced to one.

I do not want all the feeds to be affected. Can I not say what should and should not be manipulated? This is the main reason, other than the fact that I still had one feed to deal with, that I did not want to merge my first two plugins. While having them all affected works for me, and is exactly what I want, it may not be what others want. Due to this fact, and with some help from the Habari developers, I have implemented a way for users to turn on or off what they want via checkboxes. If one wants to only have the tag feed modified, they can uncheck the other two items. Of course, if all were unchecked, the plugin would not be doing its job, so I do think that it is best to leave them all checked. By allowing such configuration, all three of the original plugins are rendered obsolete. The ability to choose what feeds are modified allows one to not only install one plugin to get the functionality of three, but also allows things to work if one wanted only the functionality of one.

Although this all sounds great, there are things that people may not like. As configurable as this plugin is, feeds are given titles and subtitles that I specified in a custom class that this plugin utilizes and there is no way to set one's own text. Some people may not like this, but I think that everything is clear enough as it is. Other than that though, I cannot really think of any other issues, since I dealt with much of the issues that it had when I originally uploaded it to Github.

While having plugins to deal with feeds is nice, nothing really beats needing only one that can be configured by the user, which reduces the amount of plugins that need to be maintained. Being able to configure the plugin how one wants renders the other three plugins obsolete, because it can be made to work like they did. And even though one cannot set their own text easily, the titles and descriptions should make it clear to users what exactly they are subscribing to.

What are your thoughts on the Feed Titles plugin? Are you glad that I finally merged my plugins into one that is configurable? Do you agree that this makes the others obsolete? Feel free to comment.

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