FeedFlare for Feed Circulation

UPDATE: Please refer to this version instead, which is updated and ready for use!


I guess it is a small world after all. A while ago I created a FeedFlare to make it easier to post your articles to digg. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m surfing the web a few days ago, minding my own business, and I see that not only is someone else actually using this FeedFlare, but posting the item to digg caused a huge traffic spike to his web site! As John ‘Hannibal’ Smith used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

So, I was inspired to create another FeedFlare: Feed Circulation. If you’re lucky enough to get your item on the digg home page, this is an easy way to watch your numbers go through the roof. 😉

This FeedFlare is dynamic (meaning there’s actual code that makes it work) and uses FeedBurner’s Awareness API. So, before you use it, you’ll need to enable Awareness API access to your feed.

How can I use this for myself?

  1. Download and install this Rails app on your web host.
  2. Create a FeedFlare XML file to point to the app and include the relevant URLs, as in
    http://YOUR_DOMAIN/feedcirculation/↵
    circ?feedUrl=YOUR_FULL_FEED_URL_HERE
  3. Login to your FeedBurner account.
  4. Go to the Optimize tab.
  5. Click FeedFlare in the left menu.
  6. Copy/paste the XML file’s URL into the text box under Personal Flare and click Add New Flare.
  7. Scroll down to the bottom and click Save. (This is easy to forget.)

This doesn’t seem to work for me.

I tried to keep this pretty simple to avoid any problems, but, hey…stuff happens. To that end, I wrote this in such way that you can “debug” this a little with any web browser. If you’re having issues, hit this URL:

http://YOUR_DOMAIN/feedcirculation/↵
circ?feedUrl=YOUR_FULL_FEED_URL_HERE

(Make sure to include the full URL.) You might see an error message like the following:

Error occured (1): Feed Not Found

The error code 1 and the message Feed Not Found are returned from FeedBurner and can be looked up on this page. They’re informative, if not exactly verbose, and they should help you pin down what went wrong.

If you see a tiny snippet of XML that tells you how many subscribers you have, you’re good to go.

How does this work?

Three words: Ruby on Rails.

It’s pretty straightforward, really…it grabs your feed URI from the full feedUrl and makes a call to the FeedBurner Awareness API to pull up the number of subscribers. That number is embedded in the XML the code returns, which is then parsed and displayed in your feed or on your site.

To give credit where credit is due, the code to parse the XML returned by FeedBurner was aped from the Ruby wrapper for the Backpack API, written by DHH himself.

Enjoy.

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One thought on “FeedFlare for Feed Circulation

  1. […] days ago, I created a FeedFlare that displayed a feed’s circulation (i.e. subscriber count) and offered it up to the world. I wrote it in Rails and ran it my hosting account, but the traffic became such that I had to shut […]

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