Friday, 16 October 2009

Automating events notification

After last week's Friday afternoon blogpost on how I'm using RSS, Twitterfeed, Twitter and Facebook to engage with our students, I thought I'd write a follow up.

Up until now I've only connected up our news item RSS feeds to Twitterfeed but I haven't connected up our events RSS feeds. The reason for this is that some of our events (e.g. our workshop programme) we publish in bulk at the beginning of term and so RSS out from these wouldn't work in a timely fashion. Then I had an idea (just as I was trying to get to sleep) - what about creating a collection portlet on our website (Plone) and set the criteria to only display events that are 24 hours in the future. Then if the RSS from this collection was connected to Twitterfeed the events would appear automatically on our Twitter account 24 hours before they happen, which in turn would appear on our Facebook fan page. All of which would neatly feed in to our followers' news feeds without me having to do anything (or without having to pester other people to do anything).

So this is the criteria I set in the Plone collection item:
  • Item type = Event
  • Location = [relevant folder]
  • State = Published
  • Start date (and this is the bit that makes it work in a timely fashion) = 1 day/in the future/on the day
And to my considerable astonishment it worked!
So now we'll be letting students know of events, via Twitter and Facebook, 24 hours before the events happen, without having to do anything. And whilst this clearly doesn't stop the need for conversation - it does help facilitate it.


  1. Neat solution. Collections in Plone are potentially very powerful - I just wish I could persuade colleagues to publish things in a way I could use (one of our research groups has a "news" page which is just one huge page, rather than a blog with discrete items that can be put into an RSS feed, for example).

  2. You're right about the "" around news there!