Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Books Widget

Want to share your library with friends, family and even the rest of the world? If that's the case, you can use my new Google Books Library Widget. Please take a look and experiment with this new widget, and let me know what you think about it.

Google Books

In Google Books you can create your own Library. Take a look here to see my small test library. As you can see, there are 2 books in this library, and I have written a small review for each of them. Creating your own Google Books Library is very easy. First of all, you need to have a Google account. As a Blogger user, you probably have one. After signing in on your Google account, select "more" from the menubar on the Google main page. This opens a small pop-up menu, where you can select "Books". This brings you to the Books-page, where you start creating your Library by "Importing Books". You can easily add books to your Library by entering a list of ISBN-numbers. Google will look up all bookdata. After importing some books, return to the Library page (click on "My Library" in the menubar), to see your Library Listing. Now you can add comments, reviews, and a ranking (0-5 stars) to your books. After setting up your Library, it is time to move on to creating the Google Books Library Widget.

Creating the Widget
Creating the Widget is done in a few easy steps:
  1. Get the URL of your Google Books Library;
  2. Create a Widget with Yahoo Pipes;
  3. Add the Widget to your Blog.
It will take less than a minute to set it up.

1. Get your Google Books Library URL
Go to your Google Books Library page. Select the contents from your browser's address bar by right-clicking on it and selecting "copy" from the popup menu.

2. Create the Widget with Yahoo Pipes
Go to my Google Books Library Pipe by clinking on the link. In the entry-field, enter the URL by right-clicking and pasting the URL you just copied. Click the "Run Pipe" button. Your Library data are retrieved, and displayed as a list of titles and descriptions.
If the output is as you expected, go on to the next step.

3. Add the Widget to your Blog
Now click on "Get as a Badge". Badge is the Yahoo-word for Widgets. This will bring up the Badge Configuration Window. In this window, click on "Customize the size, type and settings of your Badge". In the entry-field again paste your Google Books URL and click "Next". Now select "Blogger" as the destination for your Badge. This brings you to the familiar Blogger-screen, where you can select the Blog, and enter the heading for the new Page Element. Click on "Add Widget", and afterwards view your Blog.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Please change URL's

In my last post I have informed you of my ISP changing my homepage URL. I hve repaired most of the links in this blog, but if you have installed my widgets (such as Recent Posts and Recent Comments, you will have to change the link in your own blog as well.

Please change all referrals to "" to "" to get your widgets working again.

Good luck and sorry for the inconvenience.

Tip: download my javascript-files, and upload them at your own web-space.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Speeding Up BlogTOC

Some of you who are using my (much appreciated) BlogTOC widget have mentioned the long load times of their blog as a result of the BlogTOC widget. Also, some of you want to display the Table of Contents automatically, without the visitor having to click on the Show TOC link.

Well, I will share some ideas with you regarding this subject.

Speeding up stuff
If you implement the BlogTOC widget in the standard way, the entire code of the widget is placed in a Blogger Page Element, usually somewhere at the top of you blog.
Now, while your Blog is loading, all code is processed from top to bottom. The piece of code that is the most time-consuming is the code that retrieves the Blogger Feed, parses it, and puts the data in a set of javascript arrays. This slows down loading, but once the data has loaded displaying it is done lightning-fast.
A good solution is, to move the retrieval-code to a page element that is completely at the bottom of your blog page.
I have moved the code to the bottom of the footer, and that has sped up loading a lot.
The code you have to move is this:

<script src=""></script>

Automatic display of TOC
If you want the TOC to auto-display, add a simple line of javascript code at the end:

<script type="text/javascript">showToc();</script>

Friday, January 11, 2008

Aorta Widget

If you like mashups, you probably will like my new Aorta Widget as well. It displays your life's bloddstream, your Aorta, in the sidebar of your Blog. What is in your Aorta? Your Blogger Blog feed, to begin with. But also your Flickr Photo's, your Picasa Webalbums, and your YouTube Channel.

Easy Installation
Go to the Widget Installation & Downlaods Page, and click the Install Widget to Blog button. This will bring up the Widget Installer, where you can customize the widget before installation.
Enter the full url of your Blogger blog. If you have a Picasa Webalbums account, enter the Picasa username here. If you don't have a Picasa account, leave this field blank. If you have a Flickr account, enter your FlickrID here. Again, if you have no account, leave the field blank. Finally, enter your YouTube username, or leave blank if you have no YouTube presence.
Click Customize, and then Add to my Blog.

Easy Styling
Add custom CSS-classes to your skin. You need .bbaortabox, .bbaortaitem and .bbwidgetfooter.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pipe Your Plaxo Pulse Into Blogger

Well, I suppose that you know at least one word from this title: Blogger. Then it is time to get acquainted with Plaxo and Yahoo! Pipes. Again, as in many other Widgets I have created, the Widget might be of little practical use. But it has an educational purpose as well: it shows how to mash up datafeeds from different websites, transform them into JSON, so that you can easily pump the data into your Blogger sidebar. So here we go!

Plaxo is a social network service, that you can use to maintain your personal and business networks. Plaxo has been out there for several years now, but the new idea of Plaxo Pulse has given new dimensions to the use of Plaxo. The Pulse lets you share all kind of information with your network. You can add blogfeeds, links, photo's, messages or polls to your Pulse, and share them with your friends, your family, business relations, or with all of them.

Yahoo! Pipes
With Yahoo! Pipes you can convert any feed from any webpage into something else. You can mash up data from different sources, and create your own feed with it.

Piping your Pulse into Blogger
For this new widget I enabled my Personal Pulse Feed in Plaxo. This means that there is a feed containing all 'events' that took place, for example changes in personal information (phonenumber, address, etc.), or links that I added to my Pulse. This feed is a standard RSS-feed, and that is of little use because the widget needs a JSON-formatted feed (I have explained the JSON-concept in another post).
So that is where Yahoo! Pipes come in handy. I created a simple pipe, that picks up the Plaxo Feed Url. The output of this pipe can be retrieved in JSON-format. And my new widget takes that JSON-output as its input.
Relax, it sounds more complicated than it is.

Setting Up Your Plaxo Feed
Assuming you have a Plaxo account, sign in on Plaxo, and select your Pulse.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on RSS Feeds. This brings you to the Pulse Stream RSS Feeds page. Here you can see the 5 possible feeds: Everyone, Business Network, Family, Friends, and Me.
Select one of them and click on Enable. The feed will be enabled, and you can copy the Feed Url from the textbox. Copy it to Notepad for now.
This was step 1. Easy, wasn't it?

Creating the Pipe
Assuming you have a Yahoo! account, go to and sign in.
At the top of the page, click on Create a pipe to bring up the Pipe Editor. You will see the empty canvas with the text drag modules here, and several modules to the left side of the canvas. Drag the Fetch Feed-module onto the canvas. Now copy the Plaxo Feed Url from Notepad, and paste it into the url-input box in the Fetch Feed Module. Now connect the Fetch Feed Module to the Pipe Output box. A blue line will appear. Guess what - you have just created your Pipe!
Click on the Pipe Output box to select it. In the Debugger window at the bottom of the screen you will see your Pipe's Output.
Now click the Save-button, and click Back to my pipes.
From this list of pipes, click on your newly created Plaxo Pipe to run it and view its output. At the top-right you will see a small Feed-icon, with the text More options. Click this link to open a small pop-up menu. Right-click on the menu option called Get as JSON and copy the link and save it in Notepad. You will need this JSON-Feed-Url in the next step.
You have now completed step 2.

Installing the Widget
Now it is time to install the widget to your Blog. Go to the Widgets and Downloads Page, and click the Add Plaxo Pulse Widget to my Blog button. This will start the Click-n-Go Installer. In the install-screen, enter the JSON-Feed-Url from your Yahoo Pipe, and set the maximum number of items to display. Click Customize to create the Widget code, and then Add to my Blog to add the Widget to one of your Blogs.

Add some CSS
For your convenience I have added 3 custom CSS classes:
  • .bbplaxobox: a wrapper containing the widget

  • .bbplaxoitem: the item itself

  • .bbwidgetfooter: the widget footer
Add style definitions for these classes to your template's skin.

Your Privacy
As far as I know, sharing the feed only shares the fact that you have added or changed information. The feed will NOT contain the new information. Clicking on a Pulse Item brings the user to the Plaxo Pages. Information is only visible after sign-in, for users who are connected to you.

I hope this has some use, or that it inspires you to delve further into Piping and JSON.