Converting blog post urls into MS Word documents using Google Apps Script #oerri

As part of the JISC OER Rapid Innovation Programme we’ve been experimenting with monitoring project blogs by gluing together some scripts in Google Spreadsheets. First there was Using Google Spreadsheets to dashboard project/course blog feeds #oerri which was extended to include social activity around blog posts.

As the programme comes to a close projects will soon be thinking about submitting their final reports. As part of this projects agreed to submit a selection of their posts with a pre-identified set of tags shown below as a MS Word document. 




detailed project plan, either in the post or as an attachment


reminder of the objectives, benefits and deliverables of your project


link to / reproduce the use case you provided in your bid


1-2 paragraph description in accessible language, an image, a 140 character description [1 post per project]


update posts on outputs as they emerge, with full links/details so that people can access them


end of project: complete list of outputs, refer back to #projectplan and note any changes  [1 post per project]


towards of the end of the project, a list of lessons that someone like you would find useful


end of project: evidence of benefits and impact of your project and any news on next steps


this is the follow up to the nutshell post. a description in accessible language, and a 2 minute video [1 post per project]


OERRI DashboardWhen this was announced at the programme start-up concerns were raised about the effort to extract some posts into a document rather than just providing links. As part of the original experimental dashboard one thing I had in mind was to automatically detect the tag specific posts and highlight which had been completed. Having got the individual post urls it hasn’t been too hard to throw a little more Google Apps Script to extract the content and wrap in a MS Word document (well almost – if you have some html and switch the file extension to .doc it’ll open in MS Word). Here’s the code and template to do it:

And here are the auto-generated reports for each project:

Projectposts (Est).PROD urlGenerated Report urlComments
Attribute images2 No tagged posts
bebop14 Link 
Breaking Down Barriers10 Link 
CAMILOE1 No tagged posts
Improving Accessibility to Mathematics15 Link 
Linked data approaches to OERs15 LinkPartial RSS Feed
Portfolio Commons10 Link 
RedFeather18 Link 
sharing paradata across widget stores10 Link 
SupOERGlue6 LinkNot WP
synote mobile16 Link 
Xenith4 Link 


I should say that these are not issues I have with the OERRI projects, but my own issues I need to solve to make this solution work in a variety of contexts.

  • Missing tags/categories – you’ll see the dashboard has a number of blanks. In some cases it’s not the projects fault (as the majority of projects used WordPress installs it was easier to focus on these), but in other cases projects mix tags/categories or just forget to include them
  • Non-WordPress – 3 of the projects don’t use WordPress, so other ways to grab the content are required
  • RSS Summary instead of full feed – ‘Linked data approaches to OERs’ uses a summary in their RSS feed rather than full-text. As this script relies on a full text feed it can’t complete the report (one of my pet hates is RSS summary feeds – common people you’re supposed to be getting the word out, not putting up barriers.)

Hopefully it’s not a bad start and if nothing else maybe it’ll encourage projects to sort out their tagging. So what have I missed … questions welcomed.

5 thoughts on “Converting blog post urls into MS Word documents using Google Apps Script #oerri

    1. Post author

      So the issue here is project blogs that aren't wordpress. How could you do this programme wide without having to specify the platform projects use? My thought was if JISC used the same technique as ds106 of aggregating blog posts using the FeedWordPress plugin which takes a mirror of the post and stores it in a central wordpress install it would be easy to generate reports. The issue would still be projects not tagging their posts correctly, but it would be a step in the right direction

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  3. Right now it sounds like Movable Type is the
    preferred blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

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