firstRSS: In-Post RSS Aggregator

One of the biggest hurdles we’ve got in the edublogging community is bridging the RSS chasm.

  • If you’re an edublogger, chance are you’ve got at least a basic idea of what it’s all about. You’ll probably use an RSS reader, or aggregator, such as Bloglines, to keep track of the blogs you read. You maybe even use an RSS feed or two to provide some content for your blog, such as news headlines.
  • For most people in schools, though, RSS is just another bit of jargon. The potential benefits of RSS tools in education can’t be obtained. And because – if you’ll pardon the Rumsfeld-ism – they don’t know they don’t know it, let alone what the benefits might be, there’s no demand for training…

What has to happen for people to “get it”? In my experience, demonstrating a feed aggregator is a key step. I usually use Bloglines for this, as it has a good user interface. But if you want to try to explain RSS in your blog, as Tess does here, you’re at a disadvantage – you can’t so easily show a live feed in the context of your writing.

But what if you could put a little RSS feed reader right inside your blog post? The firstRSS WordPress plugin lets you do just that. It’s now enabled on Exc-el: if you’ve an Exc-el blog you’ll find it under the WordPress Plug-Ins menu. The entry explains the syntax.

Maybe, by enabling a kind of RSS “show and tell”, firstRSS could help us demystify the whole thing?

Here’s an example, using its “rsslist” command to list – live – the titles from the Pencaitland Primary blog feed:


And here’s the same feed, only this time using the Plug-In’s “rsspara” format to see more information from the feed entries:


6 thoughts on “firstRSS: In-Post RSS Aggregator”

  1. Neat plugin, you could repurpose all sorts of feeds, doe it continue to update after the post is made or somehow lock what is there at the moment of posting?
    I could see advantages in both.

    Lynne, it looks like the plugin pulls in titles from an rss feed in this case the recent posts from Pencaitland Primary Blog

  2. I’ve just rewritten this post to try to make it a bit clearer. John, it reads them into a cache, here’s an extract from the firstRSS readme file.

    The cache time is set to six hours, so changes to the feed may not show up immediately. This setting can be changed in the source.

    A limit on the number of items can also be set in the source.

    I’m planning to use this to improve on the eduBuzz explore page by feeding live posts to the centre of the page, perhaps using a “sticky” post at the top.

    This mechanism should also make it easy to create topic-specific pages, showing recent feeds. I’m sort of hoping this will get people curious about the wonders of RSS, if they’re accompanied by some suitable propaganda/marketing message…

  3. Any chance you know how to change the source code to change the number of items firstRSS will display? Thanks. 🙂

  4. We’re using V0.2.0. In that, line 20 of firstRSS.php is where the item limit appears to be set:
    $rss->items_limit = 0; // 0 = infinite
    I’d try setting that to the value you want. Good luck. 😉

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