When Google shutdown Google Reader, many people flocked to Feedly to read their RSS feeds. I am one of them. Feedly has done a very good job at working quickly to provide features and functions that Google Reader users have come to expect in their RSS reader. You can, for instance, mark a feed to be saved for later, much as you could in Google Reader, a useful feature if you are in a hurry, or want to keep a post around.
But what if you wanted to be able to “record” an entire blog as the posts happen. Certainly, it would be better if you didn’t have to manually “favorite” or “save for later” each post when it was posted. Automating this would be idea. You might call it the RSS equivalent of a DVR–say, a DBR: Digital Blog Recorder. I thought I’d share how I do this very thing using IFTTT and Evernote.
Setting up the IFTTT recipe.
For those who have never used it before, IFTTT is a service that allows you to integrate multiple online services together. The abbreviation stands for If This than That. The idea is that you select a trigger (If This) and when the condition is met, you tell it do take an action (That). Here is how to set up an IFTTT recipe to capture an RSS feed in Evernote
1. Go to IFTTT and create a new recipe, and click the this link as shown below.
2.Choose your trigger channel. This should be the Feed channel as indicated in the figure below.
3. Choose the feed trigger. You have two options here: any time a new item is added to the RSS feed, or any items in the RSS feed that match certain criteria. For the purposes of this example, I am choosing the former:
4. Provide the RSS feed URL for the blog that you wish to capture. In this example, I am using the RSS feed for my Going Paperless posts, which is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/GoingPaperless. Most blogs have a link to the RSS feed. You can copy that link from the blog and paste it into the box below. When you’ve entered the feed URL, click the Create Trigger button.
5. Now that you’ve set up a trigger (“whenever a new post is added to the Going Paperless RSS feed”), you need to tell IFTTT what action to take. Click the “that” link to set up your action.
6. Select the Evernote channel to have the action go into Evernote. Note: if you’ve never used IFTTT with Evernote before, you may be prompted to authorize IFTTT to use Evernote.
7. Once you’ve selected Evernote (and it has been authorized), choose the action you wish to take in Evernote. For this example, I want to create a new note.
8. By default, the available fields will populate with some default “placeholder” values. For example, the Title of the note in Evernote will be populated with the “EntryTitle” of the blog post from the RSS feed. Below is what the default looks like. I’ve left all of the settings alone, but removed the notebook and tags. Selecting no notebook will automatically put the notes into your default notebook.
See how the + button is circled next to the Body field above? Clicking on the + button will give you a list of all of the available values you can use to populate your note in Evernote. The values are defined by the RSS trigger:
9. Finally, once you have created your action, you can provide a description of the recipe. When you click the Create Recipe button, it will become active. As new items are added to the RSS feed you’ve selected, they will be automatically sent to Evernote.
My Shared Recipe for Going Paperless-to-Evernote
That might seem like a lot of steps, but the IFTTT interface makes it easy and you can actually set them up quickly. That said, once you’ve set up a recipe, you can also share the recipe so that others can use it. I think it is a good exercise to go through the steps yourself in order to learn how to use IFTTT, but if you just want the recipe, I’ve shared my Going Paperless-to-Evernote IFTTT recipe. Feel free to use it.
What this looks like from Evernote
Once a new item is added to the RSS feed for which you’ve created a recipe, it will create a new note in Evernote for that new item. What the note looks like varies based on the type of feed. Some feeds only provide summaries of a post, and some feeds provide the entire post. I have a recipe that captured my own blog posts in Evernote and these capture the full post. They look something like this when you look at the note in Evernote:
The recipe that captures my own posts put the notes in my Social Networking notebook with a “blog” tag.
Other Blogs I Capture
You need one IFTTT recipe for each RSS feed you want to capture. I don’t capture all of the blog posts of very many blogs, just those that I want to “record” and keep for the long haul. So for instance, I capture posts for all of Lifehacker’s “How I Work” series of blog posts, which I love to read each Wednesday, and which are always packed with useful information. For this, I use a filtered RSS feed, as opposed to all new items, which would give me everything from Lifehacker’s blog.
Because you are capturing the result of an RSS feed, you can automatically capture virtually anything that is produced via an RSS feed. If you want to capture the comments of a blog, simply plug in the URL to the comments RSS feed of the blog. Some sites use the RSS feed as a data stream. Perhaps there is a site that produces the day’s weather in an RSS feed. You could capture that using the same steps I’ve listed above.
I use this technique as a way of recording blogs that I enjoy and that I want to keep for the long haul, but there are many other uses of RSS->Evernote via IFTTT. In fact, there are many other uses of IFTTT->Evernote. Some others that I use:
- Automatically adding meeting minutes to Evernote
- Uploading Facebook photos in which I have been tagged to Evernote
- Uploading my Foursquare checkins to Evernote
- Uploaded my Instagram photos to Evernote
If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.
Last week’s post: The Paperless Classroom: A Case Study at Launch Pad.