The folks in the Gregarius IRC channel asked me to write up a tutorial for how I did the Vox Apologia aggregator through WordPress, using Gregarius.

So, here’s a quick and dirty tutorial.

1. Install Gregarius. The instructions can be found here. Enable the RSSView plugin, in the config of your admin section. This is essential.

2. Add your feeds.

3. Navigate to the folder you’d like to aggregate to an external source – in our case, Vox.

4. Scroll to the very, very bottom of the page – you’ll see a tiny link entitled “RSS” – that’s the key to it all.

5. Use that link in the tool of your choice, and begin displaying your aggregated content.

Now, that’s the quick and dirty tutorial. Nothing I’ve done is hard, but you need to tweak a bit to get WordPress to display it correctly.

I’ll forget steps one through 3 – it’s easy, and documented elsewhere. The difficult part is knowing how to format it to get it to show up correctly in a call from javascript or from within WordPress.

Tools required:

1. A WordPress blog
2. External script to format the RSS feed for display
3. Plugin to enable php to be executed from within a page

For number one, I am on WordPress 1.5 for one blog, and WordPress 2.0 for the second.

For number two, I am using rss2html, designed by feed4all, which parses the RSS output into html, to be displayed on a webpage. What I prefer about this, is that I can host the script *on my own site*, without having to rely on yet *another* external application.

There are external options, however. Feedroll and FeedDigest can do much the same, as well – but, they do so on *their own* servers. Which are often slammed. Like all free services, you get what you pay for.

For number three, I use the runphp plugin, from Mark Somerville. It works. You type whatever you want to run from within special html-looking brackets – and it works.

Easy stuff. What, however, do I run? I run the script listed above – rss2html_full.php. What this does, is format whatever the feed inputs are into html, however I want them to, using a stylesheet and template. What you can also do, is run feedroll or feedigest the same way – but they display with javascript. This way is much, much better. I would venture to say that trying to do this with an external tool wouldn’t be very nice, at all.

For sidebar RSS updates, there is a smaller rss2html script that displays it in a more compact, “headlines” style format. I use this as well – and export it to several places.

This combined setup (Gregarius, rss2html, WordPress) does the following things:

Aggregates the RSS feeds on *your* server. *Exports* the feeds you’ve just aggregated – which no other “on my own server” aggregator software/setup I’ve found can do. Plus, it lets you take that exported, aggregated feed, format it and display it in your blogging software, on it’s own distinct page. Nothing against Gregarius’ server-side display – but you can’t put that on *anyone else’s site*. Which brings me to the thing I really wanted to mention – also, with this setup, I can export the *aggregated* feed – *with* formatting, to *anywhere* else.

Gregarius gives you the aggregation muscle, and the distinct advantage of *exporting* an aggregated feed (which, I might add, only blogdigger allows you to do, from the external aggregator tools – and they are notoriously slow!). Rss2html gives you formatting options on that aggregated, exported feed – and allows you to display it anywhere.

It’s a powerful combination, and I hope someone else finds it useful.