Over the past little while I’ve been chipping away at an Indie Reader plugin for WordPress.

It’s still a bit rough at this point, but works well enough that I’m happy to announce it here.

Yarns Indie Reader allows you to subscribe to websites that publish either rss or h-feed. As well as keeping up with your subscriptions, you can like and reply and it create posts on your blog automatically.

Likes and replies made using Yarns are marked up with microformats. So if you have Webmentions enabled on your blog (e.g. using the Webmention plugin), your responses should show up correctly when replying to sites that can receive Webmentions.


Yarns Indie Reader screenshot
Screenshot of the Yarns Indie Reader feed

Installing Yarns Indie Reader

Yarns can be installed to your WordPress blog like any other plugin.

Because it’s still a bit rough, I haven’t uploaded Yarns to WordPress’s plugin repository yet.  So to install it you’ll need to download from Github and then upload it manually.

Download: github.com/jackjamieson2/yarns-indie-reader

Getting started

Once you’ve installed Yarns, you’ll need to create a page to view the feed and manage your subscriptions. You can do this by creating a new page with the content [yarns_indie_reader]

This is a shortcode that tells the plugin, display the reader here. When you view the page you created, you should see something like this…

Yarns Indie Reader menu
Yarns Indie Reader menu

You won’t see any posts until you add a subscription.  To do so, click on Manage subscriptions. You will see a brief form titled Add a subscription.

  1. Type a URL where it says “Enter a website address…”
  2. Click find feeds
  3. Yarns will check the website you entered and then display a list of its feeds.
  4. Select the feed you want to subscribe to and then click Submit.

Once you’ve subscribed to a site, Yarns will check it every hour or so for new posts. If you’re impatient, click Update feed to check right away.

To view posts from your subscriptions, click View feed.

Likes and replies

Just like most social media sites, you can click respond to posts by clicking ‘like’ or ‘reply’.

Examples of likes and replies created using Yarns:

Integration with IndieWeb

This is my effort to contribute to the IndieWeb. So I’ve tried to support features from other IndieWeb plugins.

Webmention and microformats: Likes and replies made using Yarns are marked up with microformats. So if you have Webmentions enabled on your blog (e.g. using the Webmention plugin), your responses should show up correctly when replying to sites that can receive Webmentions.

Post Kinds. If you’ve installed the Post Kinds plugin, then replies and likes will have post kinds assigned.


The foundation of this plugin was adapted from Ashton McAllan’s excellent WhisperFollow plugin.

Parts of the design were inspired by Kyle Mahan’s WoodWind.

Future plans

(in no particular order)

  • When displaying h-feed subscriptions, only h-entry posts are formatted correctly. h-events will be captured but their display is clumsy.
    • To do: Improve display of h-events, add RSVP reply-actions.
    • To do: Add support for other types of posts.
  • Better parsing of post types, probably using the post type discovery algorithm.
  • Improve the layout of the feed on mobile devices.
  • Add better support for h-cards (such as displaying author photos)
  • Add support for websub.
  • Debating whether or not to add auto-scroll for pagination.
  • Add an interactive tutorial or clearer documentation to make the plugin more accessible.
  • Add an option to automatically clear old feed items (currently the database will just get bigger and bigger as more posts are added)
  • Ability to view feed from a specific website.
  • Ability to sort feeds into lists (similar to Twitter’s list feature)
  • My big hope is to be able to subscribe to Twitter, Facebook, or other platform feeds.



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11 thoughts on “Yarns Indie Reader

  1. Jack, I installed the Yarns Indie Reader just minutes ago. Setup was easy and of course, I used your site as the first test. Love it! This is a useful contribution to the IndieWeb.
    I have hundreds of feeds in my RSS reader. Have you done on test on how/if performance is affected? At some point I need cut back on my RSS list.
    Does the plugin support Markdown for formatting?
    Looking forward to how this develops.

    via Khürt%20Williams

    • Khürt, Thanks for downloading Yarns!

      I have not been testing with large numbers of RSS feeds, so I don’t have a solid answer. Yarns uses a simple cron job to check ALL of your subscriptions every 60 minutes. With a large number of subscriptions, this would involve a large number of requests each hour. I plan to improve this but it will take a little while to figure out the best approach.

      I also haven’t tested using markdown. I’ll give it a try and let you know

    • Hi Khürt, I just tested Yarns with a few different markdown pluginsResult: Markdown entered in Yarns worked with this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/markdown-editor/ but did not seem to work with some others. I don’t use usually use markdown on my site so I’m not familiar with differences between plugins. Hope this helps a bit, at least.

      Yarns doesn’t do anything special to work with markdown, it just creates a post with the raw text you enter in the reply field. This means it should be equivalent to writing a post in the “Text (HTML)” input of the post editor. This means any html you edit will work, and markdown will at least work on some configurations.

      If you give it a try, let me know happens!


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