Festive fun: Auto tweeting your Google Reader shared items using Yahoo Pipes and twitterfeed

Using the festive period to stray slightly away from my core remit I thought I would document a little mashup which allows you to automatically tweet items you share in Google Reader.

Background

I’m a big fan of Google Reader and its the main way I consume RSS feeds (unsure about RSS? Here it is explained in plain English). Already I use the  Shared Items Post Plugin to automatically post a digest of my shared Reader items. The idea is I’m acting as an intelligent filter, sifting through almost 150 subscriptions to pull out items which might be of most relevance to staff at our supported institutions. The nice thing about Google Reader is I can share items making a personal note or comment. This has parallels to micro-blogging sites like twitter. 

The emergence of twitter, and similar status update sites, is changing the way many people tap into information streams and for me it makes sense to make sure information I produce or find useful is disseminated through as many channels as possible.

How to do it

Go to your Google Reader Shared page (if you haven’t set-up a public page or can’t remember where it is login to Reader, click on ‘Your stuff’, then ‘share settings’, shown below).

Google Reader Screenshot

On the page that opens there should be a link to ‘Preview your shared items page in a new window’, on this page you need to copy your ‘Atom feed’ link.

At this point you can go to straight to an automatic tweeting service called twitterfeed and paste this link in as a new feed (Twitterfeed is a free service which allows you to submit a RSS feed. New feed items are then ‘tweeted’ on your behalf). Unfortunately doing it this way means that any notes you’ve written about a post are lost.

Not satisfied with this I decided to create a Yahoo Pipe which extracts my notes, if any, and tweets this instead. If you’ve never tried Yahoo Pipes its a great free service to take existing RSS feeds, do some tweaking and output a new custom RSS feed. I’ll explain how the pipe works at the end of this post. For now:

  1. open this ‘Tweet Google Reader Shared’ yahoo pipe
  2. paste your ‘Atom feed’ link from Google Reader and click ‘Run Pipe’.
  3. copy the ‘Get as RSS’ link into twitterfeed.com.

Now when you share an item in Google Reader with a note, the note will be tweeted via twitterfeed.com (if you share an item without a note the existing item title will be used).

To see an example here is a tweet posted via twitterfeed which was pulled from the Google Reader Shared page shown below:

Google Reader Shared Page Screenshot

How the pipe works

Below is a screenshot of the pipe I created (click here to see it in Yahoo Pipes). The pseudo code is:

  1. Fetch Feed from Google Reader Shared page
  2. If feed contains annotation copy as title else do nothing
  3. Sort by date (new first)
  4. Remove <a href> tags from title 

Yahoo Pipe Screenshot  

Enjoy (and Seasons Greetings)!

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This blog is authored by Martin Hawksey e-Learning Advisor (Higher Education) at the JISC RSC Scotland N&E.

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