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An RSS feed for Dovetail Recent Knowledgebase Articles, courtesy of Dapper and Yahoo Pipes

We publish our knowledgebase articles online: http://www.dovetailsoftware.com/resources/knowledgeBase.aspx. We use the Dovetail SDK to query the solutions in our Clarify/Dovetail database and build the HTML pages.

In addition, we have a page that lists the latest 20 articles: http://support.dovetailsoftware.com/selfservice/solutions/recent

This is nice, but it means that one would have to visit the web page to see any new articles.

I would like to be notified when new articles are added. Between email spam and Microsoft Outlook, my faith in (and enjoyment of) email is dwindling on a daily basis. But my love of RSS feeds and Google Reader continues to grow. So, how can I get new KB articles pushed to me by RSS?

One way would be to go back to our dev team and have them add an RSS feed for that page. Could be done. Not too hard. But that would take time away from actual product development. Instead, I wanted to see if I could do this myself, without coding.

Dapper

A little time with Google, and I found dapper. (Dapper : The Data Mapper) From dapper’s site:

Easily provide new means for people to access your content (such as RSS). You can use Dapper to create feeds, widgets, and APIs with your content and links.

So I can use Dapper to turn my HTML into a RSS feed. A few minutes playing with Dapper, and I created my first Dapp:

http://www.dapper.net/dapp-howto-use.php?dappName=DovetailRecentKBArticles

 

This Dapp maps the HTML (which is really just a bunch of divs and anchors) into a structured format, suitable for RSS. Now, I can use Dapper to transform this data into an RSS feed:

http://www.dapper.net/transform.php?dappName=DovetailRecentKBArticles&transformer=RSS&extraArg_title=title&extraArg_description[]=summary&applyToUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dovetailsoftware.com%2Fresources%2Fsolutions%2Fmost_recent.aspx

Then I simply subscribe to this feed using Google Reader, and the newest articles show up in my Google Reader:

 

Rockin!

Yahoo Pipes

Another popular tool for doing this is Yahoo Pipes. From their site:

Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web.

Like Unix pipes, simple commands can be combined together to create output that meets your needs:

  • combine many feeds into one, then sort, filter and translate it.
  • geocode your favorite feeds and browse the items on an interactive map.
  • power widgets/badges on your web site.
  • grab the output of any Pipes as RSS, JSON, KML, and other formats.

I looked into this, but Pipes didn’t have an easy way to make HTML be a data source, hence why I used Dapper. However, I can use my Dapper output as an input data source for a Pipe. So if I wanted to filter the data, or combine it with other data, I could do this with Pipes.

I did just that here: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=FiBWPVGd3BGGvGTs6kjTQA

Here’s what it looks like in the Pipes designer (it’s about as simple of a Pipe as you can make):

 

I really like the Pipes design tool. I’m looking forward to exploring and playing with Pipes a bit more.

It’s pretty amazing what you can do with free tools and services nowadays. And its even better when you can combine the power of these tools with the data within your internal systems, like I’ve done here. Very cool.

Rock on.

2 Comments

  • gary.storey

    I added it! Nice!

  • kmiller

    Me too.

    I guess, here at Dovetail, we could have a Business Rule that notifies me when a solution is added but I like the freedom of a feed much more.

    Thanks Gary.

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