If you are one of the many bloggers using Feedburner to manage your RSS feed, there’s a good chance you’ve chosen to display your feed numbers using their FeedCount chicklet. Ever wonder if you could free your feed count from the confines of that tiny graphic and let those numbers bound free, to be styled however you might please with the magic of CSS? Well folks you can!
And in this post I’m going to explain how. One caveat to this tutorial, unless you are using WordPress you will need some coding skills as we will be using a WP Plugin to make life easier.
Examples of Chicklets and Freed Feed Counts
First of all though, here is an example of the chicklet that Feedburner provides:
The chicklet is great as it’s easy to make and displays your stats with very little hassle. I’ve also noticed that the chicklet updates my feed numbers before they change in the actual Feedburner control panel. Unfortunately the chicklet is very constrained and in my opinion looks a little naff with the tiny text and little bevel.
As an example of what this tutorial will be creating, I have actually freed NxE’s subscriber stats and if you flick to the NxE homepage and scroll down the right hand side you will see subscriber stats displayed in HTML goodness. In case you are lazy to click on that link, there’s an image of what I’m talking about shown on the right.
So how does it happen? Well the bit of magic that makes it all possible is the Feedburner Awareness API.
Feedburner Awareness API
Some time ago Feedburner released an API – which stands for Application Programming Interface – for their application. An API is a set of programming tools to let you make use of their application features with your own programs.
The API lets you do all sorts of clever things including among other things, the ability to display your subscriber stats in plain HTML. You can see the full documentation for the API here.
But I don’t want to write code!
Fortunately you don’t have to write any code yourself, at least not if you use WordPress, because there is a WP Plugin available from Mapelli called FeedCount which does it for you!
Here’s what you need to do:
And there you have it, stylish subscriber stats that set you apart! If you really want to go nuts, you can create an Adobe Flash file that draws in the feed stats as a variable from the HTML into a dynamic text field and then displays or animates the numbers from within Flash.
- Log in to Feedburner as usual and enable the Awareness API otherwise nothing will come
through to your plugin for display Enable Feedburner Awareness.
Log in to your Feedburner account, choose your feed, click on the “Publicize” tab and then in the menu click on “Awareness API” and set it to “Active”. Note that if you are already using the chicklet to describe your count it is probably already active.
- Install the FeedCount Plugin and Set Options
Install the plugin by following the instructions then go to “Options” in your WordPress admin. Then click on “FeedCount” and enter in details of your feed and how often you want the numbers to update. You can also choose the words to go before and after the actual number.
- Paste some code in
Now all you need to do is edit your WordPress template in the place where you want your numbers to appear and paste in: < ?php if (function_exists(‘fc_feedcount’)) fc_feedcount(); ?>
- Style your code
The FeedCount plugin automatically wraps up the output in some and tags, so if you can open your blog, click “View Source” and find the code to see how exactly it is formatted. Then add some CSS to your stylesheet to make it fit your theme.
So thanks Mapelli for the plugin and for setting us free of that damned chicklet!