Yarns is a microsub server plug-in available for WordPress that allows with the aid of different connecting apps to read RSS feeds and use Indieweb techniques to interact with them. 

What’s the use case for this?

Because I’m using this site for all my social media needs, being able to view, subscribe/follow different feeds from the source, and even resyndicate, and/or respond to them is a better workflow than the one I’m using now:

  • check RSS reader and see thing I want to respond to.
  • copy URL to thing
  • open another window and log into my site, and respond there.
  • kinda profit?! OK, so it’s not really that complicated I guess, but having an all-in-one method to just hit a “reply” button is a bit easier, no? Not to mention the ease at being able to keep tabs on read/unreads and use it as a “read-it-later” service without having yet another app for that too.

How easy is it to use?

Pretty simple once I figured out where the settings were– seriously, that was the hardest part because that’s where you set up the feeds subscription. For me, it’s sitting in the same spot as the rest of the Indieweb plugins. I expected it to be more like Friends which is a plug-in that allows WordPress blogs to “follow” other blogs (and anything that runs ActivityPub like Mastodon accounts, but more on that later). Friends has its own separate section that allows you to view feeds directly from your website’s front end when logged in… Doesn’t work for me though, as it constantly shows “Feed not found” while simultaneously showing there are posts in many feeds and I can go into the “back end” and see them all. I don’t think it’s supposed to work that way though, so that’s why I’m giving this a shot. Also the Friends plug-in creates users on your WordPress instance to utilize the addtional rows of database entries. An easy way to ensure everything gets backed up since no additional tables are needed to hold all that data this way. To your wordpress installation, it just looks like all these new users are making private posts. I’m not opposed to this method really.

How would you improve it?

Remember, my goal with the site is for it to be my social hub. As we’ve been seeing over the past few months thanks to a certain avian SNS site’s changes, it’s FOSS alternative Mastodon has zoomed into the spotlight and users are switching to the network from or at least using in conjunction with Twitter. Because I want Starrwulfe.xyz to be my “Mastodon/ActivityPub” instance, I’d like any way to make that easier.

  • Allowing Yarns to officially “follow” ActivityPub accounts would be very welcome. This means having Yarns fire off a “followed” ActivityPub in the background. It would need to hook in to all the same places that “Friends” currently does as well, but it shouldn’t be hard since its well documented in code. Adding in some way to turn @-@ usernames into their URLs and discovering all their feeds is a good look too… Speaking of which–

Can we get a way to discover all the feeds for a particular entity?

  • The cool thing about Friends is that you can create a “user” and save all the feeds associated with that user in one place and in one stream!
  • When following a blog that has feeds for each category/tag/area
  • When following a person that has feeds for their main site, micro-blog, and social media site.

Another thing I want is some kind of minimal reader/publisher _as a part of_my site.

  • Create an “onboard reader/publisher UI for those times access to Monagle, AllTogetherTomorrow, Indigenous, etc are all down.

Lastly, I’d like to be able to import/export OPML files.

  • I have a bunch of feeds that could be chucked into Yarns right now if I had this, but have to spend time keying them in by hand…

This is definitely not a rant and merely suggestions on how to improve upon a good idea from a neophyte user’s point of view. This post will be updated as I get more adept at this and/or the makers of the plug in implement anything incorporating any of my suggestions.


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One thought on “Some thoughts on Yarns

  1. Re: OPML import, I once created https://github.com/janboddez/add-opml-to-yarns/. While it may not support OPML v2, you might wanna give it a try. (Other than that, I’m not much of a Yarns fan. Its database architecture is pretty weird, and I’m afraid it doesn’t deal too well with larger amounts of data. Plus, I’ve sort of stepped away from the whole Microsub thing, but that’s just me.)

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