RSS linkposts in Pelican

You may have noticed that linkposts have started appearing on the blog. This is, of course, not an original idea.

I use Pelican to generate the site, so I needed to find a linked list implementation that worked in Pelican. I started with Gabe Weatherhead’s post which explained how to add a link attribute to my Markdown source files, and I modified my templates and CSS for the linkposts. But Gabe’s post ended on a loose thread, which I felt compelled to pull on:

I’m still trying to understand how to create RSS feed link-style articles.

In most RSS feeds with linked lists, the main URL points to the original source, not the commentary on the host site. That’s what I wanted to implement in Pelican. (I don’t know if Gabe ever found the answer, but if he did, I can’t find where he wrote about it. I was also unable to find anybody else who’d done this before.)

I couldn’t find anything in the configuration, or the templates, for creating this sort of feed item, so I decided to find the code which generates the XML that goes into the RSS feed. I tracked it to a file in the Pelican module: writers.py. On my machine, the full path was

~/.virtualenvs/pelican/lib/python2.7/site-packages/pelican/writers.py

This module contains a function, _add_item_to_the_feed, which gets the attributes for a post, then passes it to the add_item method on the feed object. One of the arguments passed to add_item is the main URL of the post. By intercepting this and replacing its value with the link from the Markdown headers, we can redirect the RSS feed to the linked post. I’m also appending an arrow to the title of the post, and a permalink to the post body.

This is the diff:

diff --git a/writers.py b/writers.py
index 61acdad..d899f99 100644
--- a/writers.py
+++ b/writers.py
@@ -41,16 +41,22 @@ class Writer(object):
         return feed

     def _add_item_to_the_feed(self, feed, item):

-        title = Markup(item.title).striptags()
-        link = '%s/%s' % (self.site_url, item.url)
+        article_link = '%s/%s' % (self.site_url, item.url)
+        if hasattr(item, 'link'):
+            title = Markup(item.title + " →").striptags()
+            link = item.link
+            description=item.get_content(self.site_url) + "<p><a href=\"%s\">Permalink ∞</a></p>" % article_link
+        else:
+            title = Markup(item.title).striptags()
+            link = article_link
+            description=item.get_content(self.site_url)
+
         feed.add_item(
             title=title,
             link=link,
             unique_id='tag:%s,%s:%s' % (urlparse(link).netloc,
                                         item.date.date(),
                                         urlparse(link).path.lstrip('/')),
-            description=item.get_content(self.site_url),
+            description=description,
             categories=item.tags if hasattr(item, 'tags') else None,
             author_name=getattr(item, 'author', ''),
             pubdate=set_date_tzinfo(

I’m not keen on patching my Pelican installation like this, because it’s a bit fragile and I’ll have to reapply the patch if I ever reinstall. I’ve made an exception for this change, because it’s fairly critical to how link posts work, but I don’t expect to make many more changes like this.