Full-text feed entries with Hakyll

It’s nice when RSS or Atom feed contain full-text posts because from there people can do whatever they want: aggregate posts to planets, filter them by keywords, after all, just read it in their favourite RSS reader and not on your (possibly ugly) website. Creating such a feed was easy at Blogspot, but with Hakyll it turned out to be quite a challenging task. In this post I’ll provide a howto (with a little bonus for those who took a burden of learning basics of arrows) on the topic.

Let’s start with the basic code to generate the feed:

match "feed.rss" $ route idRoute
create "feed.rss" $ requireAll_ "posts/*"
  >>> arr reverse -- reverse chronological order
  >>> arr (take 5) -- only 5 latest posts
  >>> renderRss feedConfiguration

feedConfiguration = FeedConfiguration
  { feedTitle = "My RSS Feed"
  , feedDescription = "All posts"
  , feedAuthorName = "John Doe"
  , feedRoot = "example.org"
  }

There’s a problem, though: Hakyll gets text for feed entry from the description field of the page, and that one usually is empty. Just as a quick remark, here’s how you can populate it with some text in Markdown:

---
description: Here goes a description of a post.
---

Okay, so description is empty. Where’s your post, then? In the body field! So let’s just copy the contents from field to field!

import Control.Arrow (arr)

create "feed.rss" $ requireAll_ "posts/*"
  >>> mapCompiler (arr $ copyBodyToField "description")
  >>> renderRss feedConfiguration

Oops… Now our feed contains a lot of garbage because we included full HTML page into it! And that’s the moment of truth. I’ll first show you what I originally did, just so you understand what should not be done:

create "feed.rss" $ requireAll_ "posts/*"
  >>> mapCompiler (arr $ \p -> Page {
        pageBody = unixFilter
          "sed" ["-n", "/<article[^>]*>/,/<\\/article>/p"]
          $ pageBody p } )
  >>> mapCompiler (arr $ copyBodyToField "description")
  >>> renderRss feedConfiguration

(I exploited the fact that my blog uses HTML5 markup and article is wrapped into <article> tag)

So yeah, just a bit of Unix magic and we’re done. Well, almost: those <article> tags are still in the feed.

And that’s when I googled it properly (at last!)

It turned out that Roman Cheplyaka (the guy who introduced me to Haskell, by the way) already asked the same question. From there, it was easy: all we need to do is copy body into description when we’re creating the page. One should be careful to do that before applying any templates, or your feed entry will end up being re-formatted according to the template (that may be a win for someone, though). So if you had code like that:

match "posts/*" $ do
  route $ setExtension ".html"
  compile $ pageCompiler
    >>> applyTemplateCompiler "templates/post.html"
    >>> applyTemplateCompiler "templates/default.html"
    >>> relativizeUrlsCompiler

then all you need to do is to stick one tiny line after pageCompiler:

match "posts/*" $ do
  route $ setExtension ".html"
  compile $ pageCompiler
    >>> arr $ copyBodyToField "description"
    >>> applyTemplateCompiler "templates/post.html"
    >>> applyTemplateCompiler "templates/default.html"
    >>> relativizeUrlsCompiler

And here goes the bonus I promised you at the beginning: what if you want to be able to provide short descriptions for some posts? Obviously we should check if the description field is set, and only populate it with page’s body when it’s empty. Let’s get down to the code:

hasDescription :: Page a -> Bool
hasDescription = not . null . getField "description"

pageHasDescription :: Compiler (Page a)
                               (Either (Page a) (Page a))
pageHasDescription = arr (\p -> if hasDescription p
                                   then Right p
                                   else Left  p)

Those two pieces was easy: first we define predicate that checks if description is empty, then we turn that function into arrow. We need second function in order to split control flow in two depending on whether or not description contain anything. And now is the most interesting part:

match "posts/*" $ do
  route $ setExtension ".html"
  compile $ pageCompiler
    >>> pageHasDescription
    >>> arr (copyBodyToField "description")
        |||
        id
    >>> applyTemplateCompiler "templates/post.html"
    >>> applyTemplateCompiler "templates/default.html"
    >>> relativizeUrlsCompiler

Here we use (|||) operator of type ArrowChoice a => a b d -> a c d -> a (Either b c) d. What it does is take two arrows, a b d and a c d (note the same resulting type) and turns them into new arrow that takes value of type Either b c, applies first arrow (a b d) if it’s Left b or second one (a c d) if it’s Right c, and returns the result (of type d). Easy!

So what our code does is pretty straightforward: pageHasDescription returns input page wrapped in either Left or Right depending on whether description field is empty or not, and then we either populate the field with page’s body or just left things intact.

That’s all for today, folks. See you!

Update 08.09.2012: add arr reverse >>> arr (take 5) thing — even though it’s specified in the documentation that list of entries should be in reverse chronological order, I managed to miss the fact the first time. Also gave feedConfiguration some dummy value so code looks complete and ready for copy’n’paste.

Drop me a line! (wonder where’s the comments form?)