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Traveling with The Bag #indieweb

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Ik: ‘Ik geloof dat ik zojuist succesvol de EU heb verlaten.’
Pa: ‘Dat moeten de Britten je nog maar eens nadoen.’
#naarjapan

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Schipholfie

“Neeee, ik zie eruit als een meisje, maar qua telefoon ben ik een jongen.”

Seb vindt een foto leuk.

My site broke, because the /2019 folder in my storage did not yet exist, and somewhere over the last year I added code that relied on that. So 19 years in, the Millennium bug is still active.

Seb vindt een foto van Aaron Parecki leuk.
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At home for Christmas, I found this package dealing with Elixir strings. #myelixirstatus

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De stijve kerstbroer uithangen. #kerstfie

Dit nummer verwoordt vrij goed hoe ik me voel op Instagram. Frank Sinatra - The Girl From Ipanema

Bij het uit de tram stappen:
“Je iCloud-wachtwoord is dat dan.”
- “Ja, ik dacht dat dat neushoorn was, maar dat was het dus niet.”

Ik ben zo’n man met een kerstpakket op station Nijmegen.

Ik wil een Xenoblade karakter die eruit ziet als een stereotype IT’er, die dan in de stem van Rex tijdens het gevecht dingen roept als ‘backslash!’, ‘underscore’ en ‘sudo bang bang’.

Seb vindt een foto van Dora leuk.

De beste vorm van artificiële intelligentie is natuurlijk het ruraal netwerk.

Seb vindt een foto leuk.
Seb vindt een post van Calum Ryan leuk.
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About last night...

Just implemented a Siri Shortcut for IndieAuth! Now let’s see if I can integrate it with my Micropub shortcut.

Seb vindt een foto leuk.

Enhancing the Micropub experience with services

At IndieWebCamp Berlin this year, at the session about Workflow, we came up with an idea, how to enhance your blogposts with an external service using Micropub. I’ve thought of a few variants, and in spirit of the IndieWeb I should first build them and then show it, but I haven’t got around it yet.

So y’all will have to do with just a description. I might implement it at some point, if I have a real use case for it. I don’t actually want weather on my posts.

But let’s start at an idea I first had at IndieWebCamp Nürnberg.

The Syndication Button Hack

Micropub is an open API standard that allows clients to post to servers. In the spec, there is a mechanism for clients to show buttons for syndication targets. The client asks the server what targets there are, and the server responds with a list of names and UIDs. The client then shows the names on buttons (or near checkboxes) and if the user selects one, the UID is set as the mp-syndicate-to field of the post. The server is then responsible for syndicating the post to, say, Twitter or Facebook.

This mechanism is widely supported among clients. And since the client does not have to do any work actually related to the syndication, it can also be used for other things.

Imagine the server implementing private posts. The support for private posts in Micropub clients is not really existing at the moment of writing. But we can get a button to toggle the state of the post created, quite easily:

GET /micropub?q=syndicate-to
Authorization: Bearer xxxxxxxxx
Accept: application/json

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-type: application/json

{
  "syndicate-to": [
    {
      "uid": "private-post",
      "name": "Private post"
    }
  ]
}

Since it’s up to the server to syndicate to private-post, it can decide not to syndicate it, but to mark it private. There are a number of possibilities with this: toggle audiences, mark the post as draft. All these things could have their own queries at some point, but until then, this will work in almost all the clients.

Also notice the Bearer token. The server can know which client is asking, so it could show a different set of buttons, depending on the client. Quill supports draft posts? Don’t show that button in Quill.

Enter the Weather Service

Back to the idea of Berlin, which takes this one step further. If we have the Syndication Button Hack in place, we can also hook up external services to enhance our blog posts.

Say I display a location with every entry I post. I could have a button that says: ‘Weather Service’. Activating that button would instruct my server to ping the Weather Service about the existance of this new post. This could be done by WebSub or some other mechanism.

Back when I signed up for the Weather Service, I gave it access to my Micropub endpoint as well. The Weather Service waits for new posts to arrive, reads their location, fetches the weather for that location, and sends a Micropub update request.

The only new part this requires, is the button and the ping to the Weather Service. All the other parts exist in clients and servers. Ah, and someone will need to build that Weather Service.

External services in general

The nice thing about this model, is that the heavy lifting is on neither the Micropub client nor the server. It’s on the external service. And it’s not that heavy of a lifting, because the external service does only one thing and does one thing well. It can give superpowers to both Wordpress blogs and static generated sites.

The external service could provide information about the weather, but think of Aaron’s Overland and Compass: it could also provide the location of the post given a point in time. There might be more. Expanding venue info?

One thing to watch out for, is concurrent processing of these Micropub requests. This might not be a problem for you, but I store my posts as flat files. If two services send an update request for the same post, one might start, and the other might overwrite the first one. (I really need to check how my blog handles this case.)

When you are using a database like MySQL, you should be safe for this kind of stuff, but it still depends on the implementation of your Micropub endpoint.

Other ways of doing it

Peter did not like this first approach, because his post would have multiple visible states (first a few seconds without weather, then with it).

Another appreach would be a sort of Russian doll Micropub request, where you sign in to an external service which signs in to your Micropub endpoint. This would mean that quill.p3k.io posts to weather.example/micropub which intercepts the request, and sends the same request with weather info added to seblog.nl/micropub.

I don’t like that approach either, because now I have to trust the Weather Service with my tokens. In the first approach, every service gets their own scoped token, which is safer.

Since the server knows how many services it has asked to enhance the post, it could also keep it in draft until the last update request comes in. This would require more work on the server’s side of things, and there has to be a timeout on it, but it could be a way to mitigate Peter’s problem.

As always: feel free to steal or improve, but please let me know.

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