Capturing your FlipBoard Magazine posts

FlipboardIconAs I’ve written about previously, although I’m not directly on Twitter at the moment, I am still curating information using FlipBoard Magazines and currently “publishing it” weekly as the Weekly RiczWest, which is basically a static page on WordPress with some links to my FlipBoard magazines that is available as a menu item at the top and is also tweeted using IFTTT (If This Then That).

DailyRiczWest-7oct13This is not really a satisfactory solution as I’d actually like to produce a “custom” magazine which contains only the content of the past week, which is the same idea I had with the Daily RiczWest. For all my gripes against Twitter, at least they make their content available via IFTTT (it wasn’t for a while, but now it’s back). Unfortunately, FlipBoard seems to be rather a closed system. This has obviously offended the “hacker” (and I mean that in a good way, not the common debased usage) so I’m looking to open it up and continue work on the core concept of taking a set of “highlighted posts” (by Flipboard Magazines, Twitter Favourites, …) and put them in to a custom stream and newspaper.

The first step is to free the information from FlipBoard to a neutral format that can be worked with. As usual, “the web” can help rescue us. FlipBoard have (marginally) “opened up” their magazines by giving them a URL which is updated and viewable by others on a browser. This gives us just enough room to actually capture the information, but how?

There are essentially three problems here:

  1. Sense changes to the web page
  2. Capture those changes
  3. Save them somewhere

3 will be solved by our old friend DropBox along with IFTTT for the high level orchestration, but it really could be anything.

For 1, before I found out I could only get my magazines “externally” from FlipBoard I was hoping they would have them exposed as RSS – unfortunately not :-( It’s a good idea though, so this lead to me searching for some way to convert web pages to RSS feeds. Luckily, there are a number of possible solutions, but I’ve chosen page2rss which is very easy to use (i.e. just give it the URL and it “does” the rest).

For 2, you simply set up an IFTTT Recipe that is triggered by your RSS feed and saves the ‘changes’ in the Web Page from 1

FlipBoard to DropBox 1

FlipBoard to DropBox 2

Once you have this set up you’ll get way too much information in your file as it seems to be a JSON Object – I’ve given a stripped down example below

"id":"flipboard-Kp8ig9DcRLGi9DYCWVwKXg:a:1234567-1386361164",
"hashCode":3819861521,
"sortValue":31117306186617,
"type":"post",
"title":"Z Motherboards For Mini-ITX Builds - Reviews - Tom’s Hardware",
"excerptText":"Pre­vi­ous<p>The Mini-ITX Mar­ket Is Small, But Growing...<p>
ASRock ZE-ITX<p>ZE-ITX Software<p>ZE-ITX Firmware<p>Asus ZI-Deluxe<p>
ZI-Deluxe Software<p>ZI-Deluxe Firmware<p>EVGA Z Stinger<p>Z Stinger Software<p>Z …",
"sourceURL":"http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z-motherboard-roundup,3656.html#xtor=RSS-999",
"hideOnCover":true,
"inlineImage":{…},
"language":"en",
"authorDisplayName":"Thomas Soderstrom",
"referredByItems":[
{
"type":"status",
"authorDisplayName":"RiczWest",
"authorUsername":"RiczWest",
"userid":"1234567",
"authorImage":{
"smallURL":"http://cdn.flipboard.com/uploads/avatar/7b432b8649b94792ac273a75720224789510b1fc.jpg"
},
"text":"",
"urls":["http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z-motherboard-roundup,3656.html#xtor=RSS-999"],
"service":"flipboard",
"remoteServiceItemID":"Kp8ig9DcRLGi9DYCWVwKXg:a:1234567",
"dateCreated":1386361164,
"ingestionTime":1386373813,
"sectionLinks":[…],
"original":{…},
"id":"flipboard-Kp8ig9DcRLGi9DYCWVwKXg:a:1234567-1386361164"
}
…
],

as in the next post I’ll be looking at parsing this for enough information to produce a WeeklyRiczWest newspaper. I’m hoping that we may even be able to use some of FlipBoards summary extraction features…

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3 comments

  1. Rita Hoeffner

    I found this article very interesting…but there is no follow up! :) You speak about your next post on the subject, but I’m unable to find it. I am VERY interested in information on parsing out some of IFTTT’s set fields to only post what I would like. So far, I’m posting as a draft to WordPress, then ‘fixing’ the post before it goes live. One issue that I’m really peeved with is the fact that images are not real, thus I cannot, say, have a featured image of something pulled from Pinterest. I’m exploring other methods of trying to get the images to actually load in my db for further manipulation…..i.e. featured posts. Thank you for your valuable info about getting things out of Flipboard. I really like FB, but they are most hard to manipulate!

    • changearc

      Hey Rita, when I wrote that post I wondered if anyone would be interested. Now I know, so thanks :-) I was going to progress this, but it’s on hold as I’m just posting the URLs (for the magazines) to Twitter which is working for me at the moment.

      I’ve just tried getting some text from one of the IFTTT files (in Github Flipboard JSON Text Gist ) and put it through an online parser http://json.parser.online.fr/ to get Flipboard JSON . You can see a number of images in there and the few I picked at random were valid, so the problem will probably be with your code or database (type). You may want to raise your question on StackOverflow or the like…

      Cheers, Richard.

  2. Rita Hoeffner

    Hey Richard – oddly enough I came across this post again today in searching for solutions and thought I would update my progress. While I think what you are trying to accomplish is way over my head and way past my needs, in case someone else is looking for solutions, I thought I would throw out what is working for me.

    I’ve discovered several plug-ins for WP that will auto import OR set the featured image for you. Just search the WP.org plugins for them – there are too many to list here and I’ve tested most and they mostly do what they say. That problem as now been totally resolved for me.

    On to my next problem of formatting the incoming fields. It’s not IFTTT – it’s the receiving app that is the culprit. Facebook does NOT NOT NOT like outside formatting – they may accept ‘some’ onsite html, but it will not pass through IFTTT at all. At least I’ve not gotten it to so far going from Pinterest feed to FaceBook. Might be different, say, going from WP to FaceBook – that’s my next project.

    I love Page2RSS – works like a charm. I’d like to however, not pick FROM Flipboard, but go TO Flipboard. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction and continuing to give me new ideas!

    Rita

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