Google Reader WordPress Plugin

Slideshow of Recommended Reading screenshots

Slideshow of Recommended Reading screenshots

Have you noticed our new Software section? Many of our projects involve innovative “mini-applications” that have greater application beyond the immediate project. One of our goals is to abstract some of these projects or apply new skills from these projects into generally available software. We’ll probably charge for some premium applications, but sometimes we’d just like to give back to the open source, GPL community that’s given us fantastic platforms like WordPress.

This week we christened our Software section with a called Recommended Reading: Google Reader Shared. The plug in, optimized for the latest major build of WordPress (2.7 at the time of writing), will let you easily feature selected items from any number of standard web feeds (be it a blog or company news) on your WordPress site. All you need is a free account!

The plug-in is also in less than 100 hours.

Once you’ve added the feeds you’d like to highlight in Google Reader, just install the plug in (easy in 2.7+), customize by going to the new “Rec. Reading” menu option under “Settings”, and in your sidebar or add it anywhere in the template manually. Then just choose the items you’d like to feature by clicking the “Share” button below any item in Google Reader.

PRFirms features member posts on their home page

PRFirms features member posts on their home page

This plug-in was inspired a mini-application we built for the Council of Public Relations Firms (PRFirms) called Firm thinking. The idea behind Firm thinking was to feature “Insight and Intelligence from Council Member Blogs.” PRFirms wanted to add value for its members by featuring the newest noteworthy posts on their home page and a longer list of recent noteworthy posts on a dedicated page on their site. Their members benefit from intangible exposure as well as the tangible search engine optimization benefits of the featured links.

This particular application was actually built on CitySoft Community Enterprise, and we’re considering releasing a plugin for that platform if there’s interest. Combining lessons learned from that project with our WordPress expertise, we were able to rapidly develop the WordPress plug-in it inspired in about one day.

One of the pieces we’re most proud of is the ability to fetch a user’s arbitrary 20-digit Google Reader ID automatically. Sadly, Google Reader’s API provides no method for directly returning this ID. While we could instruct the user on how to find the ID manually, we believe that usability is #1, so we devised a way to pull out the ID with just your Reader user name and password. To avoid making this post to technical, we’ll follow up with another blog post just on that subject for our technical audience.

What do you think? If you have WordPress and can install the plugin, we’d love your feedback!

13 Responses to “Google Reader WordPress Plugin”

  1. Rob Sama says:

    I was wondering if your Google Reader plug-in was able to handle comments in one’s Google reader feed, such as when you add a note to something you’re sharing.

  2. Jake Goldman says:

    We’re working on v1.1 and we’re aiming to add two new features… and that’s one of them!

    We’re going to make the widget more customizable, and we’re going to add support for notes / comments. I’m hoping it will be ready for release no later than Monday.

  3. Toastie says:

    It looks like a great plugin. I receive the following error when trying to install on WP 2.7 (and 2.7.1):

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_OBJECT_OPERATOR in ……wp-content/plugins/recommended-reading-google-reader-shared/googlereader.php on line 67

    $urlPost = $entry->link->attributes()->href;

    Running PHP 5.2.6

  4. Jake Goldman says:

    Toastie – not certain offhand why you’re getting that error. This happens when you try to activate the plugin…? When you just try to install through the “add new plugin” UI? Try and be as specific as possible about when this error occurs.

    I’m about to call it a night where I am, but I’ll investigate a bit in the morning.

  5. kw says:


    This looks like a terrific plugin! I went ahead and installed it on my blog however the theme I use is not widget friendly. I don’t know a lot about coding but from what I gather I’m suppose to add the line google_reader_shared(true) to my sidebar.php page where I want it to show up. Apparently I am doing something wrong because the Google articles I’m sharing are not appearing in my blog’s sidebar.

    I also tried these three lines of code (one at a time) but none of them worked either:


    Does anyone know what I’m doing wrong?

  6. Jake Goldman says:

    KW – is there somewhere I can look at your blog?

    Remember, that’s PHP code, so it needs to be in php code wrappers. In between HTML, that would look like this:

    < ?php google_reader_shared(); ?>

    Is that what you have?

  7. kw says:


    I just tried that code you pasted and now that exact line is showing up on my blog. You can see it in the left column here:

    Thank you for such a quick response!

  8. Jake Goldman says:

    KW – it looks like you have a space between the “<” and the “?php”. Is that in your source code for the sidebar?

  9. kw says:

    Ok now I have it like this “” and now nothing is showing up.

  10. Jake Goldman says:

    KW – I’ll follow up via email.

  11. kw says:

    It’s working!

    Thank you!

  12. Paul Evans says:

    It looks like a great plugin!

    A couple of things. Firstly, I couldn’t get it to get my 20-digit code – it just said ‘there is a problem’ even though I’m sure I added the username and password correctly. I’ve looked all over my google reader account and can’t find a 20 digit code anywhere – a hint as to where to look for it would be a good backup perhaps

    Secondly, I’m working on a group blog – I’d like to get it so that we could load up items from google reader *as posts* – not just sidebar items.

    I view the shared items of my colleagues – I pick out the ones I really like and either add my own comments or use theirs – and when I click ’share’ the title, my comment and a link to the article concerned go onto my wordpress blog – as a new post.

    Would you consider this as an upgrade?

  13. Jake Goldman says:

    Paul –

    Thanks for the feedback.

    The most common cause of an error in the code look up is a shared host that is either blocking outgoing HTTP requests or timing them out very aggressively. The code look up is one of the most “intensive” parts of the plug-in, as it (essentially) manually pulls apart the relevant foreign page.

    To find your Google Reader ID, go the “Shared Items” option under the “Home”, “Your stuff” menu on the left. They’ll be a link that says “at this web page” on the right side of the screen. If you look at the URL for that page, you’ll see a long 20 digit ID at the end. That’s your ID.

    The ideal behavior you describe is considerably more difficult to implement, and not a simple extension of this plug-in. Generating new posts is tricky business. If you have a budget for this project, contact us using the “request a quote” form. This will not be added to the donation-powered plug-in any time in the foreseeable future.