Forgive the multiple company posts, but our latest announcement is one of those deceptively simple things that takes a while to sink in. And I’m hoping that by documenting why I’m so excited about it that you might play around with it and use it (if you’re not already).
Last month, we announced FeedFlare. It generated quite a bit of excitement at the time, because it was the first fire-and-forget enhancement to your feed that let you dynamically add stuff into your feed — like exposing inbound links to the content via Technorati, one-click bookmarking to del.icio.us, and so on. Yesterday, the other shoe dropped, and we’ve now given you the ability to do the same thing back on your site.
Some of the techies who read this will say big deal, I hacked Movable Type/Word Press/whatever to do this ages ago. You’re right, no argument from me: if you know how to get in and hack your blog engine, FeedFlare doesn’t on the surface give you anything you can’t already do by yourself. However, the power of FeedFlare starts to get interesting when, in a couple weeks, we’ll open up the API. Now that’ll mean that with one click in your FeedBurner account, you’ll be able to dynamically add new web services — instantly — in your feed and on your website.
As Eric (our CTO) points out, there’s an additional benefit to our role in this process:
There’s one other very powerful thing about FeedFlare on the site: we are using all of the metadata and expressive power of the feed to inform the FeedFlare on the site. Since FeedBurner is processing your feed, all of the structured information is available to help generate the FeedFlare on the site. No having to scrape an HTML page like other scripts are forced to do — we can use the upstream information that simply isn’t available in the final, rendered page.
We’ve been brainstorming internally about ways to extend FeedFlare once the API opens up. We’ll publish that list (we’re gunning for 101 examples out of the gate) when we launch the API, but of course the community will figure out tons of ideas that haven’t occurred to us. I can’t wait.
On the tactical side, I’ve made some changes to my site to incorporate this. In no particular order:
- Removed links to ‘trackback’ on the main blog page and individual entry pages. Now that FeedFlare dynamically updates the Technorati “flare” with all known inbound links, I don’t have to rely on trackback — which, since not all blog platforms support trackbacks, means that FeedFlare is now exposing more inbound links than Trackback ever did.
- Added the ability to bookmark any page/item with del.icio.us, which should increase the likelihood that users will bookmark my content. This theoretically will expose more people to my content by making it easier to add tags to my pages.
- Within the feed, added an ‘email this’ button that will let anyone reading an item in a feed reader forward the item to a friend.
When the API opens up, there will be a lot more options for enhancing a feed, and I’ll be making some changes to incorporate those new features. The good news is, once they are available, all I need to do is click a button at feedburner.com and my feed and blog will automatically inherit the new functionality — no rebuilds, no template hacking, nothing. Sweet.