At last it is here…browsing the contents of your blogroll in your sidebar.
Usually you manually enter a blogroll into your blog or do it automatically via a RSS reader like Bloglines or a specific tool like Blogrolling…so there you go, you have a blogroll (next to each blog in your blogroll you could even have a small RSS icon, for quick subscribing).
Next you can take all the RSS feeds from your blogroll and make a spliced feed at Feed Digest, and promote this spliced feed at the end of your blogroll…this way people only need to subscribe to one mega-feed of your blogroll.
You don’t have to do the splicing at Feed Digest…some readers like Rojo have a feed for the whole account and even a feed for each tag. So if the feeds in your blogroll are scattered in different tags in Rojo, just collate them all in one tag for purposes of making a spliced feed.
Similar to Feed Digest you can make spliced feeds with various tools, some even provide a portal to present the contents of your spliced feeds, see this post for the list.
Within this list are 2 major players, Blogdigger Groups, and MySyndicaat…the latter is great as you can make as many spliced feeds as you like, each is called a feedbot, and for every feedbot there is your own website (portal) to display the contents, whereas in the former you have to create a new account for every spliced feed, but it does have its benefits, like limit or filter to view contents of just one feed, and create search feeds, anyway I digress.
So besides making spliced feeds these 2 tools above also generate an OPML file that lives at its own URL, nowadays these are called Reading Lists.
You can use a tool like the OPML Generator but this only generates code for an OPML which you can save locally in notepad with the .opml extension…so this OPML file doesn’t live at a URL and is static, not dynamic…actually MySyndicaat generates a static OPML file for you (don’t have to save it yourself using notepad), and also a dynamic OPML file that has a URL, this is called a Reading List.
Otherwise you can load your local OPML file, or make one from scratch in OPML Manager, where you can have a OPML file that has it’s own URL (Reading List)…this tool also has a URL to view your OPML file as an outline. You can also view the outline of an OPML at OPML Surfer, OPML Browser, and many more, just whack in the URL.
Anyway I’ve got to get to the point, whatever tool you use, you can promote the URL of the OPML file on your blog with a link under your blogroll, that says, “OPML” or “Reading List”, or use the OPML icon.
So now from your blogroll people can launch to the site of each blog, or subscribe to each feed…subscribe to the spliced feed, or even view the contents of the spliced feed at a portal…and lastly they can subscribe to your OPML, and even view an outline of your OPML.
What about the other way around?
If you have an OPML of what will be your blogroll, but you haven’t yet got a blogroll on your blog, you can use a tool called OPML Renderer, which enables you to convert your OPML into a blogroll…this will populate a blogroll onto your blog as well as the OPML icon (which is a link to the URL of the OPML, your Reading List).
You can also create a searchbox to search your blogroll, using services such as Rollyo or Swicki…but you have to enter each feed manually, they lack an OPML import.
Another option is the homemade Feedster search box, as Feedster has an option to search within the URL of an OPML.
To go further…
At the moment people have to click on a blog in the blogroll to see the latest posts, what if they could see the latest posts within the blogroll itself.
You could re-syndicate the feed of each blog in your blogroll using a number of tools…if your blogroll has 10 blogs, this means you will have 10 boxes of re-syndicated feeds, this takes up a lot of space, and the names of your 10 blogs aren’t under each other like a list…also this takes a lot of time to re-syndicate all these feeds.
My aim is to have an active blogroll, kind of like a Blogdigger Groups right there in your sidebar, acting as the blogroll…it would look like an outline, and each time you click a blog it would expand and show you the latest entries…or even more similar like a mini-Bloglines in your sidebar.
This is what I call an active blogroll, and this would be achievable using the Bitty Browser, but you can only enter one feed…it does have a directory of feeds (which you can click on to see the latest contents)…but you can’t make your own directory/menu, which in our context means you can’t make your own blogroll…it only allows you to see the content of one feed that you can manually enter.
But you can test it by entering the URL of an OPML, if it is an OPML of your blogroll, you will see a list of blogs (a blogroll), if you click on one it will show you the latest posts, clicking a title will take you to the native post…simple as that!
Check out my test.
[ADDED 13/1/06: Other things you can do with the your blogroll OPML is to make machine tag for your blogroll via TagCloud, and also create a PDF of the lastest posts from your blogroll OPML (max 10 feeds @ 50 posts per feed) via OPML2PDF…if you want to use the OPML from your RSS reader it will pick up the first 10 feeds.]