Introducing Bootstrap Icon Search

I really love the bootstrap front-end framework, and one of my favorite things about it is that it comes with a great icon set. The biggest issue I have with it is that the class names to call those icons are not always either easy to remember or accurate for how I use them. For example, I like to use the icon-envelope as an icon on any systems that has a messaging system. Every time I have gone do use it however, I struggle to remember what the name of the  @%#$ icon class is!! It got to the point that I just kept a paper printout at my desk. That seemed like a bad way to do it, so I created a website that allows you so search the icons based on “tags” that are submitted by users. That way, I will be able to find my message icon, and hopefully, some other people will be able to as well. You can find the site at http://bootstrapicons.com – the more people that use it and submit tags, the better it will function, so please take a look and let me know what you think!

SimplePie – Easy PHP RSS

SimplePie RSS LogoI write for this and two other blogs, and I like the homepage of my personal portfolio (www.brentswisher.com) have up to date information about all of my posts.  It makes for an easy one-stop-shop of all of my online activity, and I like the idea of having a dashboard of my recent activity as a home page. The issue is that manually updating the page each time I create a new post would be a bit tedious.  Since all my blogs have built in RSS Feeds, I though that would be a great way to embed new posts.

These were the criteria I was looking for:

  • Customizable so that I could make it match my sites theme
  • The links would be visible by search engines
  • I could customize what would show (titles, date, domain, etc)

After a little searching, I found something that works great: SimplePie RSS

SimplePie is a PHP based RSS parser.  It’s a PHP class that allows you to access RSS feeds in a object oriented way.  It is really simple to customize as you specify which parts of the feed to display, and you can insert them using standard PHP code anywhere in your site that you need.  It’s fast, easy to learn, well documented, and I would recommend it for anyone looking to use RSS in their website.

Advantages:

  • It uses PHP as opposed to a scripting language, so the links are indexed by search engines and will count for SEO.
  • It uses a object oriented approach to the feed, making it easy to customize what you want to display (title, link, body, etc)
  • Easy to install, just download and include.

Tips:

  • Make sure that you have the page encoding set to utf-8.  If you forget to specify this or use another encoding, strange characters will replace items like dashes and apostrophes.
  • Be aware that SimplePie caches your feeds.  If you make changes and expect to see them in the feed right away, you might need to wait for the cache to be refreshed.
  • To make it easier to make changes, create a separate page for each feed, and then include the page wherever you want to display the feeds on your site.

I would definitely recommend SimplePie for a RSS parser, what about you? Let me know if you have another solution you enjoy!