A website by Jeffrey Veen   more →

Simple Tools, Loosely Joined

30 Nov 2003

It was but a week ago that I toyed with the idea of collecting daily links while surfing, but ultimately felt it was too much work. That was, of course, before I discovered del.icio.us, a fascinatingly simple server-based bookmark storage system. Start by creating an account, then installing a javascript bookmarklet. Then, as you surf, you simply hit the bookmarklet when on a page you’d like to publish, enter a few category words, and you’re done. del.icio.us aggregates these links, builds automatic category pages, publishes an RSS feed for you, and offers an evolving API.

To publish the links, I could have simply written a few lines of PHP and run them through an RSS parser (Magpie being my favorite). But since my switch to MovableType, I’ve been enamored with the simplicity of having xHTML pages across my site that I republish with each update, rather than a mixture of dynamic and static that switching back to PHP would have required. I found a solution that would work, involving an MT plugin, a Perl script, and a cron job. But that seemed even more complex. The easier solution was to use a simple Javascript include that uses document.write() to keep the links fresh — the same technique used by Buzznet to syndicate the “Recent Photos” further down that column. On the server side, the well-written Feedsplitter grabs my RSS, parses it, and translates to Javascript for me — all while keeping network traffic at a minimum by caching.

Simple tools, each doing one thing very well, interoperable through standards. Living the dream…

Update: I wrote a quick tutorial on how to do this yourself. ​