Sending Webmentions with Craft

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Last September, while in Brighton for dConstruct, I attended the second annual IndieWebCampUK, a two-day gathering of web developers focused on building IndieWeb tools.

If you’re unfamiliar with the IndieWeb movement, its guiding principle is that you should own your data. In practical terms, this amounts to publishing content on a website at a domain that you own (instead of, say, posting all of your photos to a service like Facebook). Surrounding that principle are a variety of other ideas and tools being created by some amazing people (including Tantek Çelik, Aaron Parecki, Amber Case, and others).

IndieWebCampUK rekindled my desire to publish on my own website and build tools that would help others do the same.

Of all the IndieWeb building blocks being worked on, webmention caught my attention the most. From the wiki:

Webmention is a simple way to notify any URL when you link to it on your site. From the receiver’s perspective, it’s a way to request notifications when other sites link to it. Webmention is a modern update to Pingback, using only HTTP and x-www-urlencoded content rather than XML-RPC requests.

The power of webmention is its simplicity. Unlike sending Pingbacks with XML-RPC, sending a webmention can be as simple as using cURL on the command line to POST to a URL (as shown in this example). Very cool and relatively easy.

In the months since IndieWebCampUK, I’ve been trying to figure out how to best contribute to webmention. Which brings us to…

Webmention Client Plugin for Craft CMS

With some help from Trevor, I’ve just released version 1.0.0 of a webmention client that adds the ability to send webmentions from Craft. Installation and setup is really easy and is detailed in the project README on GitHub.

For the initial release, the plugin makes available a new “Webmention (targets)” Field Type that can be added to any of your site’s Field Layouts. When saving an entry with a webmention field, the plugin will ping each target supplied, looking for a webmention endpoint. If an endpoint is found, then the endpoint, target, and source (the Craft entry’s URL) are stored in a queue for processing. Once the queue is ready to be processed, a background task kicks off and sends webmentions to the appropriate websites.

That’s it! Your Craft-powered site is now sending webmentions.

Issues, Updates, etc.

I spent some time looking through the FAQs, Issues, and Brainstorming sections of the Webmention wiki page and I think the Craft plugin handles most of the primary use cases. There are some things I’d like to do better in future versions, though:

  • Send a webmention when a URL is removed from the list of targets.
  • Have the plugin crawl an entry’s body field(s) for URLs to ping.

The latter item would involve a lot of heavy lifting and some potentially tricky UI, but I’m hoping to tackle that down the line. In the mean time, give the plugin a try let me know if you run into any problems or have any feature suggestions.

In true IndieWeb fashion, I’ve published this on my own website first and syndicated it on Viget’s Extend blog.