All hail CogDog (on the death of Storify and reclaiming some curated history)

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Like many of you, the death of Storify has been a reminder that free tools come with a price. In this case, not only is the service shutting down, but the plethora of content that has been aggregated and curated on the platform will be deleted.



Never. Existed.

Nothing but a trail of broken links and 404 errors to be left in its wake.

I've used Storify on and off over the years, mostly for events that I have been involved in organizing as a way of capturing the moments that happen before, during and after the event. ETUG has a few Storify's kicking around. So does OpenEd 2015.

I'd link to them, but they links will just be dead in a few months when the service closes. But I will come back and edit this post in the near future to add links to permanent WordPress versions once I repeat the following process a dozen more times.

So, how to preserve? Well, Storify has created an export function (give some credit where credit is due, at least they are giving you SOME kind of option to collect your content). I gave it a try and ended up with a workable HTML file of content that I can pop onto my web server as a static HTML file to save.

But then Alan, as Alan does in his wonderful way, wrote a blog post that is equal parts web politic & web practitioner. As he rightly observed, much of the embed functionality that made Storify easy to use is available to you if you have a WordPress site. WordPress has long been a supporter of oEmbed, which makes much of the embedding goodness easy on your WordPress site. Simply paste the url of what you want to embed (from sites that support oEmbed) into a WordPress post or page and voila, a nicely formatted tweet or Flickr photo is automagically embedded in the post.

And then he turned it up to 11 and built a Storify Extractor tool that allows you to paste in the crufty HTML code that Storify gives you and extract all the links into one simple file that you can cut and paste into a WordPress blog post or page to recreate the Storify experience within your WordPress site.

I gave the tool a whirl, using the ETUG Fall Workshop 2017 (Little (Work)shop of Horrors edition) Storify as a test case. I exported the HTML version of the file from Storify. I saved it locally on my desktop. Not necessary as Alan shows you a way to get the HTML code directly from the Storify site by adding a .html extension to your Storify, but I wanted to take a look at the code myself.


One of the things I immediately noticed was lines and lines of code referencing diigolet, the Diigo browser extension I use. The code from the browser helper I used was saved alongside the Storify code. And it wasn't inconsequential. Close to 1000 (!) lines of diigolet code included with my Storify extract.

WTF Diigo?

So, I could turn off the diigolet and reexport the file, but instead I thought what the heck, let's see if the Storify Extractor can deal with this extraneous code. I cut and pasted all the code into Alan's extractor and voila! Out came a list of 187 links. No more HTML. Just a list of links, perfect for pasting into a WordPress post, which I did. And thanks to the magic of oEmbed I ended up with this page (give it a sec to load – it is making a lot of calls), which is pretty well item for item the same as the original Storify version (check the original, at least until May 2018 when they kill it).

All hail the #1 dog! Thank you.

Photo: Dead End by (who else) CogDog  CC-BY


Alan Levine (@cogdog) December 19, 2017

Thanks a lot for giving the tool a spin, Clint. Hail not required at all.

Storify did nothing to provide an “export tool” all that link does is redirect you to the url I mented, with .html on the end. Watch the url bar. That was always built in.

I had not thought about the issue of the cruft browser extensions render in the page (I think I picked up some Evernote stuff). You don’t have to disable extensions; I think if you open an Incognito Window (in Chrome) the extensions are not loaded.

187 embeds is a lot to toss in an embed, but it’s an archive. I think it eases the load if you run something like Super Cache so the viewer sees a static html version.

Keep in reclaiming!

Clint Lalonde December 20, 2017

187 is a crazy number of links. Those ETUG’ers are a chatty bunch. Testament to the robustness of the tool that it was able to take that big of a hunk of code and stripe out that number of links.

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