MUniversity of Minnesota

January 18, 2006

XML-RPC in UThink

In case you didn't know, UThink contains XML-RPC capabilities through Movable Type. Technically speaking, XML-RPC is a remote procedure call that allows code to be executed on our server without a programmer needing to explicitly code for the procedure. XML-RPC obviously uses XML to encode its calls. With me so far? For our purposes, XML-RPC allows UThink users to use different applications to submit entries to their blogs rather than the default web interface.

For example, there are many different types of desktop applications (some free, some not) that can connect to your UThink blog, post and edit entries, and give you perhaps a more appealing user interface for your blog maintenance needs. In addition, many of these desktop clients come with spell checking capabilities, something that is definitely missing from UThink's implementation of Movable Type. Some of the more famous desktop XML-RPC based clients include Ecto, w.bloggar, and Mars Edit for the Mac.

If you are interested in using XML-RPC you will need the location of the XML-RPC script on the UThink site:

You will also need a username and password. Your username is the U of M Internet ID you use to access UThink. Your password is a little different, though. To access your password, login to UThink and then click on your username/Internet ID in the upper right ("Welcome username"). On the next page look for the section called "API Password." Depending on when you created your first blog, you may or may not have a password available to "reveal." If you do not have an API password, or you would like to change your password, enter your new password and click "Save Changes." Unfortunately, you will receive a cryptic error message next, but be assured that you have successfully saved your new password. Click "Go Back" and then "Reveal" to make sure.

From there, you can use the XML-RPC script, and your username/password to connect to UThink in a different way. Another example of this is Flickr. If you post pictures to Flickr on a regular basis, you can actually hook your blog into Flickr so that when you post a picture there it also posts that picture on your UThink blog too. There are many other uses for XML-RPC. If you've got any interesting ideas or implementations, please let us all know in the comments below!

Posted by snackeru at January 18, 2006 10:13 AM

Thanks, Shane! I've been meaning to ask you about how to set up my blog in Flickr and here it is all layed out for me. Worked like a charm!

Posted by: Carrie at January 19, 2006 10:37 AM
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