Syndication Between WP Sites

Syndication is a process whereby you can post something to your site and other locations will detect that you have posted something and then pull in the content to their site, making it look like you wrote it and posted it on their site.  Is that clear?  Here is my use-case:

  1. I post everything I do to rodneydyer.com.
  2. For things that I want to be shown on my work page (https://dyerlab.org), I select a particular Category or Tag for the post.
  3. My work site monitors and any time something at rodneydyer.com comes up with the key Category and/or Tag, dyerlab.org pulls the content of the post in and formats it to look just like I wrote it for that site.

This is particularly interesting for teaching and other uses.  If a class uses WordPress for its webpage, students can provide content for that class page by publishing on their own site.  This allows each student to create a "Digital Portfolio" of work that they maintain (see my thing on Content Silos for more on this).

FeedWordPress Plugin

I'm going to use the FeedWordPress Plugin for this because it was the one that my university uses and I want to standardize the approaches.

To install it, go to Plugins->Add New and search for it.  Install & Activate  .I'm going to use a new Category, named Dyerlab, to trigger the syndication.  So I add a new one.

A new top-level category to handle the syndication.

Configuration

OK, now on my personal page, I have a category "Dyerlab" that I will attach to things that I want to show up on my Dyerlab WordPress site.  To make the connection, we need to get the category feed address.  Unless you are changing something drastic it has the following structure:

https://yoursiteurl/category/categoryname

which in my case is:

https://rodneydyer.com/category/Dyerlab/

You can try it out and you should see (if you have any posts with that category published) a list of just those posts.  If so, perfect.  If not, then you either have not posted anything with that category or you have not set up the category correctly.  Go back and check.

Now, I need to set up the other site, in this case my laboratory site, to monitor my personal site, and any time something is posted, grab it.  Go open your other site and make sure the plugin is installed.  This site will "Pull" the posts from the original site.  Click on Syndication in the bottom left panel and you will open the settings page.  

The syndication settings page.

In the "New Source" box, paste in the category address from your other site.  In my case I pasted in

https://rodneydyer.com/category/dyerlab.

You will be taken to a verification screen where you can verify that things are working properly and select the correct feed type.  There is a 'verify' link that you can use to make sure it is providing good input.  After you select which kind of feed you want, you will be redirected back to the list, as above, but with your new feed in it.

Success

Now, when I write something (like this post) on my site, it will automagically show up on my laboratory site as well. The Cool thing is that wherever it is displayed, it is reformatted to look as if it belonged at that location.  Here is this post on my personal site.

and on my laboratory site

are identical in content, though are individually styles.  Pretty cool!

Featured image bytes amattox mattox (CC BY-NC 2.0).

STRUCTURE on OSX

STRUCTURE on OSX

The program STRUCTURE is an ubiquitous feature of many population genetic studies these days—if it is appropriate is another question. Today, while covering model based clustering in population genetics, we ran into a problem where STRUCTURE was unable to run and the OS said it was Corrupted and should be thrown away.  Jump below for our fix, it really is an easy one.

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Turning In Assignments via Google Sharing

If you use Google Docs for your writing, there are several cool tricks you can use to increase your efficiency.  Here is one thing that has made it much easier when it comes to turning in assignments.  Previously, one would create a document in some word processor, work on it, put it on a thumb drive, take it home and work on it, take it back to school, perhaps a lab computer, maybe it is also worked on in the library, etc.  Eventually, you finish the document and then to turn it in you can either print it off (got to go find a printer or where I put that extra paper) or email it  in.  This last option is terrible if you have a large class!

If you are using Google Docs, you can just share it with the instructor.  In the sharing options, you can designate that you share with someone but only allow them to make “suggestions”.  This keeps the integrity of your document in place while allowing another person to mark it up.  Once you share it, they can open it and write in it but any and all changes to the document are indicated via a highlight color.  Since both of you are working on the document, there is no need to email it back and forth, there is only one document.

Here is a short video how that is done if you need more visual input.

Setting Up Your Site for Syndication

This quick tutorial is for how you set up your site to make it able to syndicate to a class site.  I am using the BIOL310 Genetics Online course as an example.  You are going to need the following:

  1. A category given to you by the professor to use on your site to indicate which posts should be sent over to the class site.
  2. A blog.  Here I am running WordPress as it is the supported one from VCU.  Others are available if you already have a blog going, if not got to rampages.us and sign up as a VCU student and make one.  Consider it a digital portfolio for all your work.
  3. Send your professor the address of your blog.

Below is a video of the process.  It is pretty easy to do.

That should be it. Once your professor has the link and sets up syndication, your posts (when the category is applied to them) will show up on the site.