Posts Tagged site update

Wed Mar 22

Site updates: Displaying Webmentions!

Webmentions are one of the most interesting and powerful technologies floating around the IndieWeb. At their most basic, they sites on the web to interact by sending a notification when a page on one site links to a page on another. When combined with machine-readable metadata like microformats2, they enable really neat social interactions between sites, feeding back likes, comments, bookmarks, shares, event RSVPs, and plenty more.

Receiving Webmentions

A site doesn't have to do all its own Webmention handling, and there are a few services that will handle them for you. I set up my website with the Webmention.io service back in August 2016 (so long ago!) and it's been accepting mentions from other sites since then. And, while there aren't a lot of websites that send Webmentions natively, there are services like Bridgy which uses Webmentions to backfeed social interactions to my site from sites like Facebook and Twitter. Pretty neat!

Sending Webmentions

When I publish a post with a link to a site that support Webmentions, I still need to actually send that notification. I haven't yet built a tool that does that for my own website, but I have been able to make use of Aaron Parecki's Telegraph, which will take in a link to one of my posts and parse it for outgoing links, find out of the targets of those links support Webmentions, and allow me to send them with the press of a button. It's ridiculously easy to use and has the added benefit of letting me pick-and-choose which links go out as Webmentions.

Displaying Webmentions

Webmention.io has been collecting mentions for my site for something like 6 months, but they don't just magically show up on my site! Webmention.io provides an API for fetching the mention data for individual pages, or all mentions for my domain.

My site is built on Jekyll, a static site generator, and I like that so far it doesn't rely on JavaScript for folks to read it. I didn't want to require JavaScript for displaying mentions, so I needed a way to "bake in" my mentions for each post. I was inspired by Aaron Gustafson's jekyll-webmention_io, but found that I didn't like some of the choices in markup or the way that it stored the mention data, so I went ahead and wrote my own. It's still heavily a work-in-progress, but I do hope to release it for other folks to use once it's more stable.

What works? Let's see!

Here's an example post with some Likes and RSVPs (both "yes"es and "maybe"s):

And an example post with some replies backfed from Facebook:

All of these are being displayed with the data that Webmention.io provides with its API, and there are some types of post that I would like to handle differently such as the ❤️ above (which was a Facebook "heart" reaction), and I'd like to include a JavaScript enhancement that will show any new mentions, so they aren't sitting in "limbo" until I make a new post.

Overall, I'm really excited to finally be showing these on my site! I think Webmention is a pretty critical part of bringing the "social web" into the IndieWeb and back out of the silos. I am grateful to all the folks that have made this possible with their work on standards and tools!

Mon Feb 27

Site updates: Syndication links

A common IndieWeb principle, after "Own Your Data" is Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere .

In general, this means that you should make posts on your own site, then copy the post to silos like Twitter, Facebook, etc., to reach the folks in those communities. To complete the process, include links on your site from the original post out to the syndicated copies.

One fun reason to do this is that tools like brid.gy use syndication links in order to backfeed comments and reactions from silos like Facebook and Twitter to your own site.

I'd been collecting these links for a while and displaying them in a "hidden" way - so tools like bridgy could see them, but a human reading the page would not.

Yesterday I added a "See also:" section that includes links out to any syndicated copies of my posts on other sites.

Mon Feb 20

Site updates: Tags and Media Fragments

Over the weekend I created an English audio version of the most recent This Week in the IndieWeb newsletter. This led to some great discussion in the #indieweb chat about improvements and next-steps in creating a podcast from audio posts on one's own website. Today I added a couple of features to my site towards that end.

First up, I added support for "tag aggregations" - essentially, pages that list all posts with a certain tag. So, any future editions of this audio newsletter that I post can be tagged with "this-week-indieweb-podcast" and will then show up on the "This Week in the IndieWeb Podcast" page. It should soon be possible to feed that page to a tool like Granary to convert the feed on that page, with its audio entries, into an RSS feed suitable for subscribing with a podcast app.

Next up, I added support for "Media Fragments", a W3C recommendation that allows linking to a specific timestamp to start (and even stop!) playback of video and audio. Aaron Parecki's recently implemented this on his own site and was kind enough to share the implementation! Now, you can create links that jump to a specific time of any audio or video post on my site.

For example, if you want to quickly jump to the part of the This Week in the IndieWeb audio edition that contains info about the next upcoming Homebrew Website Club meetings, it looks like this: https://martymcgui.re/2017/02/18/151503/#t=54

Media fragments could enable some fun things, such as a list of links that index directly to particular sections of a long recording.

Aaron also documented a fun way to use media fragments for attribution of other people's audio or video posts. For example, my audio newsletter made use of several of Aaron Parecki's pieces from his 100DaysOfMusic project. I gave attribution by linking to Aaron's posts from my post, and because Aaron's site supports Webmentions, you can see that my post shows up in the "mentions" list for one of the clips I used. With media fragment support, it should be possible to have the mentions on Aaron's post link directly to the exact portion of my audio post where it appears!

Features like this give me hope that it could be possible to make an IndieWeb podcasting experience that is richer and more interactive than the current directory model.