A couple of months ago I took to the task of making an outline (OPML directory), the premise of this outline is my Reading List. But it isn’t a true Reading List as not all the nodes are RSS feeds, the nodes in my directory are made up of text, links, feeds, even other outlines (OPML’s).
Anyway, I plugged my OPML URL into Grazr, so I can embed it on a website, now my outline is portable, so to speak. For example, to add it to your website you would click on “Add to your page” at the bottom of the Grazr box.
Since then I have noticed that OPML Workstation has totally revamped, things are looking better and better. Now they offer their own alternative to the Grazr widget, and the homepage for each of your outlines is starting to slowly look like a blog format, I wonder if they are heading into an offshoot outline blogging module.
Check out the homepage of my outline, John T’s Reading List.
Next time I write a blog post where I list lots of services, I might as well list them in an outline and embed a widget in my blog post. This way the list is not bound to the blog post, I can take my list elsewhere, it’s portable.
What is an outline blog or an OPML blog?
This is a follow up from a post a while back on outline blogging.
At the moment you could technically use an outline in OPML Workstation to work like a blog.
That is, make a node with today’s date, and have lower level nodes as your posts.
NOTE: You would have to make the date node on a daily basis, that is if you blog daily.
Or perhaps you don’t want to blog by date, perhaps you want to blog by topic.
Eg. You may add a new post about your cat to the topic node called “Cats”, maybe within the node “Cats”, you can have date nodes.
Or the other way round, 1st level is a date node, 2nd level are topic nodes, and 3rd level are your post nodes.
If you use an outline as a blog you are going to need date nodes, otherwise how will people know what the new content is when they visit your outline.
Outlines don’t usually have RSS feeds, ie. to notify you the outline has been updated…I can’t see why not.
SIDENOTE: Also I don’t see why general outlines don’t have a red mark-up changes feature and version history, like a wiki, ie. if your outline is a communally edited one. This is more purposeful for general outlines, rather than outline blogs.
Actually, I think wikis eg. Jotspot, PB wiki, etc… could have an outline feature…if you are making a wiki page you could choose outline format, and that wiki page could also have an OPML output.
Back to it…
There are outline services that have fully adopted the blog format, I guess you could call them outline blogs (I don’t like calling them OPML blogs, as OPML is more a backend thing).
I haven’t tried any of these services, but I believe you can create outline blogs using OPML editor, iJot, and Active Renderer (example, also has a feed) not sure of any others.
Actually the homepage for OPML.org is a flat level outline, the only thing is you can’t collapse the outline. But the winning feature is that each node has it’s own URL.
Well kind of, each date has its own permalink, and the posts within that date have anchor tags (#) in the URL, see here.
NOTE: the date permalinks are not visible on the blog.
Some examples using OPML editor as an outline blog:
Steven M Cohen’s OPML Blog (The Library Stuff blogger, add this feed to your RSS Reader, as Steven is abstracting the latest tools of the day.)
Check them out for yourself, you’ll notice they have an RSS feed, this is great, now you can be notified and read new entries to an outline in your RSS Reader.
I don’t think an RSS feed will notify you of changes such as fixing spelling mistakes, deleting text, adding text to an old post, I believe RSS feeds are more traditionally used to notify you of new posts, and be able to read the new post in your RSS Reader.
Maybe I’m wrong, but doesn’t any type of modification to a wiki page show in the RSS feed, or perhaps the feed doesn’t show the content, but just tells you the page has been updated.
See SLE (Simple List Extensions) for another way to use RSS.
I can’t see an OPML on any of these outline blogs, that’s a bit odd. What I like about the OPML view of an outline is that it will contain every post in the outline, not just the latest posts like RSS, it’s all of the raw text in your outline, you can take this and plug it into another service.
Outline blogs hosted with OPML.org also have a Changes page, this page just links the blogs which have recently posted.
As you can see the date nodes are 1st level (each date has a permalink), and then there are posts or nodes within the date node (each node has an anchor tag [#]), and also each date node has its own OPML.
And you can see on the sidebar that this outline blog has its own RSS feed.
The sidebar lacks an archive or calendar, that’s because the archive is the 1st level last node in the outline blog itself.
It is organised as: Archive > Month > Date, and since each date has its own OPML, you can read these posts by clicking on the OPML inclusion.
Are you following me here…
Only ironic thing missing is that the whole outline blog doesn’t have an OPML output, I can’t see one promoted anyway.
If it did, you could take the content of your outline blog and view it in another interface that accepts OPML, for instance at Grazr, Optimal, etc…
Actually, with Grazr, you could embed your whole outline blog in a small window on the sidebar of someone else’s blog.
How do I get an OPML for my current traditional blog, or specifically, how to I get an OPML for each month, which will be OPML includes within the mother OPML?
This is a question I asked in this blog post (see heading “OPML archive or latest posts for your blog”).
For the future, you could probably use an outline blog like OPML editor, and also send those posts to your usual blog. This way you have two blogs with the same content, but the outline blog has all your posts in OPML, this way you can make your content portable.
Check out Tom Morris’s blog again, have a look in his Grazr sidebar, choose:
About this blog > Blog archive > in OPML > choose a year > choose a month > choose a date…and there you have it, you are reading the blog in a little window, what a great idea for a blog date or category index.
To push this further, I could take this “> in OPML >” link, and add it as an include in a new OPML, imagine adding the OPML’s of 4 other blogs in this new OPML as well. This new OPML would contain the compete content of 5 blogs, in one little window.
It seems an OPML can be a directory, when you click on OPML includes in this directory it becomes a kind of gateway, but then the cool thing is you can read the content within this OPML window, so I guess it is really a portal.
What do you think?
1. Outliner tool
2. Outliner outputs in OPML
3. Outliner set-up with blog type features and an RSS feed, and outputs in OPML