Lifestream data and plugins

As I tried to collect my “lifestream” data for my In The Moment tab, I first investigated the incredible land of WordPress plugins. This is one of the core reasons I use WordPress – the open platform means that there’s probably a plugin for pretty much anything you can think of.

There are several plugins that promise to collect all  your data from around the web. The primary issue with these is that they are just RSS feeds themselves. That means none of the data is duplicated onto your database. That’s fine if all you want to do is showcase the latest, but I actually wanted to duplicate it and have a copy myself.

1. Lifestream seems like the oldest one out there. But the plugin seemed complex and would require me to write a class file etc. Er… right. Also, given the date it was created, I wasn’t sure it would work with WP 2.6. Gave it a pass.

2. SimpleLife is display only, no archive. I understand why some people want display only. I just want more.

3. Lifestream (yes, another with the same name) is the newest and seems to work for a lot of people. When I tried it, the formatting was very messed up and I couldn’t figure out where to change it. And it still had the issue of not being in my db.

Twitter Import

4. WP-o-matic is a plugin that pulls RSS feeds from anywhere and imports it into the database. This seemed perfect and I use it for other things on this blog, but it has two issues. One, it is highly temperamental and second, it populates the header and the body with the same content. So the content of a tweet would be the header and the body. Ugh-ly. I guess I could have figured out a way to change the template of a post based on whether it was in the category “In The Moment”, but it felt like complex code and I didn’t venture there.

5. Twitter Tools by Alex King does do a database import. However, it only works for Twitter and it also had the “tweet as header and body” issue.

Besides these plugins there are others that do the same thing including MyBlogLog’s “new with me” feature and the Profilactic WP plugin. I looked at them, but seeing they are all just RSS feeds, I skipped them for the same reason.

If you are looking for a plugin that will display the last 20 tweets or last couple of days of activity, one of these plugins is sure to meet your needs.

Since I was looking for database import (and backup of my dispered data), and a reasonably good presentation of the results, none of the plugins I could find met my needs. I gave up and decided to use Tumblr instead. More to come on the pros and cons of that decision.

  • Hey,

    Author of wp-lifestream (#3 on your list). I'm very open to suggestions on how to improve the frontend display to allow users, like yourself, easier formatting. I've also been looking into the database issues, but they've been hard to reproduce and not everyone has them.

  • Hi Zeeg/David,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I'd be happy to send you a screengrab of the UI I got when I used the plugin. Basically, the font was courier and the text scrolled off the page, onto the right sidebar and off even further. I just couldn't figure out where in the plugin I could fix that. Ideally, I would like the font and the styling to look as much like my blog as it can.

    Re: the database issue – I would like to import the data into my WP database. I still have it running in the background (to see how it works) and it seems like there is a db that the plugin uses, but the data still remains on Twitter?

    If I can sort through these issues, I'd rather use WP-Lifestream – that way I only need to deal with one blog instead of two…

  • zeeg

    Well, what lifestream does is allow you to collect all your information into one stream, much like the activity feed on Facebook. Right now it only works in WordPress, using a few tables in your blog database which it creates. As for the display issues, I've tried to use fairly generic styles and not to override much, but there may be something that is conflicting.

  • Okay, the db part works for what I'll need. I'll go back and see if I
    can figure out what the display issue is.

    Is there a way to “import” all the old tweets? i.e. the historical
    timeline? What if I had an XML file with the old tweet data. If yes,
    you'll be solving an issue Twitter users are clamoring for!

  • zeeg

    Well it uses RSS for Twitter. I guess you could manually import them into the DB with a small bit of work, but it imports any that it finds in your Twitter RSS feed.

  • Thanks for the write up. I went ahead with Alex King's twitter tool plugin and it worked like a charm. Didn't try wp-lifestream.

  • Anand – are you importing the tweet into your main blog or onto your sidebar? If the former, did you have the issue I had where the tweet appeared as both the title and the body?

  • August

    Two Thoughts:

    1. Why would you want to do this in the first place? Publish all your micro activities publicly?

    2. Facebook does this, and gives you a built in audience at the same time. There are presets to import activity from all the major services *YouTube, Flicker, Twitter, Etc…) and custom import options allow you to automatically import from any bog or anything at all with an rss feed. You not only get it all posted in your Facebook wall, but it is broadcast to all your friends. I assume the broadcasting feature would be a plus if you have the opposite view than I do regarding #1 above πŸ™‚

    I do this on facebook, but only for the things I want broadcast (my studio's “news blog” for example).

  • Hi Augie,

    1. Well, I already do that on Twitter, Flickr etc. This is just a way to pull them all together onto my blog. In terms of why do it at all – I had the same question initially and after one tweet, I didn't really participate for a while. But then I started to and I found it very similar to why I read or write blogs. To share some thoughts, to hear what others are saying, to exchange information. Of course you have to remember it is public – share only what you want to be public and archived forever…

    2. Yes, Facebook does do that… However I don't use FB for that at all. I use FB as a way to keep in touch with my friends and that's about it. Those of my friends who choose to read my blog or read twitter, cool. Otherwise I feel I am pushing it on them. The people who have my blog on their RSS feeds and subscribe to Twitter are choosing to do so expressly for that purpose.

    I think we have the flip view on both πŸ™‚

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  • Nice writeup. If you want to explore further, I cover WordPress plugins and many other options that include widgets and customizing data pulled from services and more over at the Lifestream Blog.

  • nice article! nice site. you're in my rss feed now πŸ˜‰
    keep it up

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