Blog Slideshows, Part 2: Turn Text Feeds Into a Photo Slideshow

This is a variation of the tubetorial Custom Flickr slideshows for your blog. The Yahoo Pipe there queries images directly from Flickr and manipulates the feed. The Pipe is then run and the RSS feed generated can be used in SplashCast to create an RSS-based slideshow.

What if you just want some eye candy for your blog but do not want to specify a Flickr tag? Let’s say you’re not too concerned about a theme for the images.

In this version, Flickr images are retrieved using a different method: using a pseudo-random stream of text, such as with Twitter or a news feed, and converting each item into an appropriate Flickr image.

The problem with Twitter is that because it allows non-English characters, the Yahoo Pipes Content Analysis module cannot return a result for every feed item. That in turn means that the Flickr module returns no value, and the RSS feed for the Pipe is sometimes unusable in SplashCast. The slideshow cannot be built.

Instead, let’s use the New York Times news feed, and translate it into images using Yahoo Pipes’ Content Analysis module.

Tools

These are the tools I’ve used here.

  1. NY Times RSS feed – for text content.
  2. Flickr – for sourcing images for the slideshow.
  3. Yahoo Pipes – to mashup the NY Times feed.
  4. SplashCast – to generate and display the slideshow automatically.

Process

Here are the steps taken in building the Yahoo Pipe and the SplashCast slideshow.

  1. Grab the RSS feed containing text. I used NY Times.
  2. Truncate the feed at X items. I used a hard 40, though you could add a Number Input module to make the Pipe more flexible. (Note: In the video and the example pipe, I placed the Truncate module later in the process. It’s not a big deal, but using it early is more efficient.)
  3. Analyze the text content in each feed item using Yahoo Pipes’ Content Analysis module. How it decides on a keyword or phrase is not explained, so you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope that it’s accurate.
  4. Use the content analysis to grab an image from Flickr for each feed item. So if a story in the NY Times feed is about presidential candidates and the environment, the Content Analysis module could return “president” or “environment”, but not both. Thus the image retrieved from Flickr is dependent on the analysis.
  5. Physically insert the image into each feed item. This is a necessary step for SplashCast. Other feed mashup tools
    like Tumblr
    do not need this, and may in fact not function properly.

  6. Run the Pipe and copy the auto-generated RSS feed’s URL.
  7. Import the feed into SplashCast Media’s player.
  8. Publish the SplashCast show.
  9. Place the player embed code into your web page.
  10. View and enjoy.

Since the SplashCast show is based on a feed, it should change whenever the NY Times feed does. However, there may be some sort of synchronization delay on SplashCast’s end. I haven’t explored this possibility yet.

Yahoo Pipes modules used

  1. Fetch Feed – to import the NY Times RSS feed.
  2. Truncate – to limit the number of feed items processed and output.
  3. Content Analysis – to analyze the text of each feed item.
  4. For Each Annotate/ Flickr – to loop through the feed and retrieve a suitable image from Flickr for each item.
  5. Regex – to tweak the contents of each feed item so that its associated image is embedded in the description field. This is necessary for SplashCast to “see” the image stream.
  6. Pipe Output – output the mashed up RSS feed.

Video

The first video player shows the how-to screencast, and the second is an example of what your slideshow will look like.

Links

Here are some relevant links:

  1. Yahoo Pipe: NY Times to Flickr for Slideshow. The sample pipe built for this tubetorial.
  2. Tubetorial: Create a Random Photostream With Twitter, Yahoo Pipes and Flickr.
  3. Tubetorial: Creating a Photolog With Tumblr and Flickr:

Notes

Please note that contributors to Flickr sometimes tag photos incorrectly. It’s entirely possible that an objectional image may appear. Since RSS-based SplashCasts do not let you pick and choose show items, you may want to browse your slideshow from time to time. There are advanced Flickr features, possibly to filter out adult images, though i’ll admit I’m not familiar with them at this time.