Profiles, Pinboard, and More!

It’s been a while since the last Pine.blog update, but don’t worry. This one was worth the wait! It’s been a great summer for Pine.blog so far and more people are signing up by the day! Thanks to everyone who’s given Pine.blog a chance lately, I hope you enjoy it.

Although this is probably apparent to anyone who uses Pine.blog regularly, the timeline has gotten a huge update recently. While the functionality is basically the same, I’ve updated the look and feel significantly to help Pine.blog fit in on today’s modern Web. There’s more coming on this front over the next few months and a new iOS app interface is in the works as well.

Profile Picture Updates

This Pine.blog update combines a much needed feature with a special surprise. First off, you can now change your profile picture outside of Gravatar! Pine.blog has supported Gravatar for years now, and while the service is fantastic, most people just don’t use it. While Gravatar profiles are still the default and the preferred method for setting your profile picture, you can now easily upload a custom photo that will appear on your posts and at the top of your blog.

Additionally, you can now upload a profile picture that will be used only when certain characters are present in your posts. This means that you can easily upload custom photos that will be used whenever you post using certain emoji! Whether you want to express your true feelings whenever you use the 😩 emoji, or you want to add more character to your 😷 2020 selfies, you can! This feature is available to premium users, and you can learn more by checking out the Knowledge Base article. My thanks to Aaron Parecki for his help desingning this feature!

Custom Avatars
Custom Profile Pictures

 

Pinboard Integration

If you’re a Pinboard user, you can now set up Pine.blog to automatically add your liked posts to Pinboard. This integration makes it easy to save and sort through everything you’ve liked on Pine.blog. As a Pinboard user myself, it’s also nice to have everything I save in one place. If you’re an Instapaper or Pocket user, don’t worry. I’ve got a special update planned for you as well in the near future.

Other Improvements

Aside from the improvements listed above, this version of Pine.blog fixes a number of bugs and contains a few other minor improvements.

First off, I’m working on getting the User data API finalized and out for public use. The API has been stable and ready for months, but I’ve just been hesitant to pull the trigger and finally open it up to everyone. Once that is complete, developers will be able to build their own Pine.blog clients and maybe even bring Pine.blog to Android!

Finally, I’ve added a new Webhook for developers that allows you to receive a Webhook request whenever you publish a new blog post. This, in addition to your blog’s existing RSS and JSON feeds should allow for rich integrations with all kinds of services. Currently the Webhooks fire whenever you post or update a post on your blog. I’m working on getting other events hooked up, so keep your eyes peeled for new updates.

Bring Us Your Static Sites, Yearning to Breathe Free

Blogs come in all shapes, formats, and sizes and that diversity is part of what makes blogging great. As of today, no matter what kind of blog you have, Pine.blog can help you make it more interactive than ever!

If you’re a Premium subscriber and you have a blog on WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, etc, or even a custom site you built, you now use Pine.blog to receive mentions on your site’s behalf. This means you’ll get all the benefits of using your own site, but you’ll still be able to see what people are saying about your site from within Pine.blog! If you use WordPress, or you have a hosted blog on Pine.blog, you can even reply to those mentions!

Adding Cross-Site Mentions to your site is really easy. You can find instructions on how to do so in your Account Page.

Cross-Site mentions are yet another way that Pine.blog is trying to push us towards the Open and Indie Web future! No matter where you blog you can get all the interactivity of Webmentions and cross-site replies.

Blogs can and should be the social network of the future, and Pine.blog is here to help make that better world a reality.

Pine.blog and The Social Web

Today is a very special day; one that’s been in the works for a long time. I hope everyone enjoys the truckload of new features that are being rolled out.

The Social Web

Today, Pine.blog joins the Social Web as a full-fledged member!

Blogs are, traditionally, a one-way medium. Bloggers can post and share their thoughts with the world but readers often don’t have an easy way to respond to or comment on the stuff they read. Typically, blogs have either moderated comment sections (which force readers to post their thoughts on someone else’s site and not their own) or the reader will need to reply via email.

This lack of interactivity was one of the driving forces that caused blogging and blogs to fade and facilitated the rise of more interactive, easier to use, and less cumbersome Social Networks. On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc replying to a post was a button click away.

With the latest version of Pine.blog, one-click replies have arrived on the Open Web. Bloggers on Pine.blog now have the ability to reply to posts in their timelines, anything in the Feed Directory, and even to other replies!

When you reply to a post, Pine.blog uses Webmentions to let the recipient know you’ve responded to them, and if they respond back, you’ll see their response in your Mentions as well as on the post they responded to. All blogs on Pine.blog automatically have a new Replies section so that your conversations don’t crowd out your normal posts.

The Feed Directory

There’s been a few changes to the Feed Directory with this release as well. Aside from some UI tweaks to the Tag Lists, there’s been quite a few changes to the way sites and feeds are parsed and default feeds are determined, and Publishers adding their site to the Directory, you’ll now receive an email when your site is completely imported.

Subscribing to a new feed or site will now also cause the site’s information to populate in the Feed Directory more quickly. This should fix the issue where some feeds or sites would look unpopulated for a while before fully being added to the Directory.

Hosted Blogs

Aside from all of the goodness with Replies, Hosted blogs are getting a number of substantial improvements. First off, they now work without Javascript 🎉 This change also means that your blog should load a bit faster even with Javascript enabled. In addition, visitors can now see the comments, mentions, and replies that are sent to your blog (this behavior is configurable in your account settings).

Notes on Pine.blog for iOS

Currently, a new version of Pine.blog for iOS is still in the works. It became evident recently that there needed to be quite a bit of tweaking done to get the app ready for all of these new features. A new version of the app should be out in the coming weeks.

I’d love to know what you think of these new features. And if you have thoughts, let me know!

For All

It’s time, not only to take back the web from the giants, but to make it better than it’s ever been before. We can make a web that works for all of us, that promotes our values, that doesn’t spread hate and misinformation, that is good for our society, and that encourages us to be the best we can be.

This is why I build Pine.blog: because this is the web I want, and because it’s the one we deserve.

Read more →

For the Developers

Podcasts have so far avoided the fate of blogs and video and remained true to their roots. In no small way, the openness of the iTunes Podcast directory has had a huge impact on the fate of podcasts as a medium. Apple provides a centralized directory that other users, clients, and services can search freely, all while the shows themselves remain open and decentralized. This is the future of blogging.

Pine.blog’s Search Directory has an API that’s free to use. Other apps are encouraged to add blog search to their feed reader or blog-based applications and to help promote the open-ness of the Web We Want.

Read more →

For the Writers

Writing on the Web doesn’t have to become like video: trapped on a single platform. Blogs are a great way to share thoughts, reviews, opinions, essays, quick snippets, photos, and more. And blogging was once a world open to anyone. We can take that world back.

Pine.blog makes it easy to start a blog and get started writing on the web on a site you control. No setting up servers or giving all your data to Facebook. On Pine.blog anyone can follow your writing, whether they use Pine.blog or not, and you can reply to, comment on, and like other posts from across the web.

Read more →

For the Readers

There’s a new, bright future for social media, and Pine.blog is just one piece. Open Social Networks like Pine.blog come in all shapes and sizes, and they can all talk to each other. Whether you’re using Pine.blog, Mastodon, WordPress, Micro.blog or something else, you should be able to talk with, share, and follow everyone else in that network. In this way, Pine.blog uses the Web itself as a Social Network.

With Open Social Networks, users are always in control. If you don’t like that a service shows you ads, or charges a fee, or tracks your clicks, you can move to another service that doesn’t and you don’t have to lose your followers, your timelines, or your posts.

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Why did I build Pine.blog?

The Web Used to be Different. It Used to Put People First.

Not misinformation or hate or algorithms, but people. We deserve that web again and we can make it better than it’s ever been.

For years, closed social networks like Facebook and Twitter have been swallowing the web and all of the promises it once held. Writing on the web is now held hostage by the giants of social media. They control what we see, who gets attention, and what businesses succeed or fail.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Pine.blog is a small step towards a brighter future for the web.

 

Read more →

Pine.blog now supports Webmentions to let other sites know when you’ve liked their posts or comments on their work! Pine.blog users can also receive Webmentions as comments and likes!

Replies are in the works!

Webmentions are a technology that allows people who use Pine.blog or another compatible platform (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Micro.blog, Mastodon, etc) to like, comment on, and reply to each others posts, even across platforms. Think of it like being able to like a photo from Instagram on Twitter.

Check out the details in the Pine.blog Knowledge Base

Patronage

Pine.blog aims to make writing on the Web easier. Part of that mission involves letting writers make a living from their work.

If you use a crowdfunding site, or other site that lets your readers support your work, you can add a link to your page on that site in your Pine.blog account settings.

A link to that page will appear on your blog in both the header, as shown below, and the footer, as well as in the Pine.blog app. Other sites will also be able to show a link to your payment page.

Payments Header

Important: Pine.blog does not handle or process your payments in any way, it just displays a link to an external payments site to let your readers know how to support your work.

Getting Feedback

In the olden-days, blogging’s biggest downside was its inherent lack of feedback. However, while Pine.blog does allow people from across the Web to reply to and comment on your posts, sometimes it’s better for readers to respond in a more private way.

In your account settings, you can allow users to contact you via your Pine.blog email address. When you enable this option (which is off by default) your readers will see an icon on your blog, and in the Pine.blog app that will allow them to email you directly.

Payments and Email links in the Footer

Images Galore

You can now upload images to Pine.blog and embed them in your posts. Just click on the 📋 icon to copy the embed code and paste it into your post. Browse and upload images by clicking on Images in the username dropdown.

Image uploading is coming to Pine.blog for iOS soon, along with a bunch of other features.

The Blogrolls are Back!

Blogrolls are an old idea. They originated back with the original blogs back in the early aughts. The idea was simple: bloggers wanted to point their readers towards other blogs they liked. It was a recommendation system built on people and on trust. Blogrolls spread far and wide helping readers and bloggers discover and link to each other in a meaningful way.

In an effort to re-kindle some of the old ideas that made blogging so great in the old days, Pine.blog now supports adding a blogroll to your blog with 1-click! Simply enable the blogroll for your blog in your account settings, and you’re done!

Hosted Blog with Blogroll

Blogrolls are automatically generated based on the most recent sites you’ve recommended (click the ⭐️ icon to recommend a site). This means it’s super easy to get started with a blogroll and it’s also easy to curate your blogroll.

Fall 2019 Update: Hosted Blogs

The wait is finally over: Pine.blog users can now start their own blog! Blogs are designed to be lighting fast and easy to use, and there’s also a brand new editor and full drafts support. With this update, Pine.blog way more than just a feed reader, it’s a way to stay updated and to share your thoughts with everyone.

All blogs have built-in RSS and JSON feeds so anyone, even if they don’t use Pine.blog, can follow what you post, and all blogs are automatically added to the Feed Directory so that other Pine.blog users can find your site quickly and easily.

The combination of a blog… and a good Feed Reader can provide nearly all of the features people require from a modern social network… On Facebook or Twitter you can sign up and be posting in minutes, you can easily find other things to follow, and you can easily see what others are saying. Typical Feed Readers solve only one of these problems. – Blogging has an Image Problem

Pine.blog for iOS has been updated and you should see it in the App Store shortly.

Give Pine.blog a shot and see how social the open web can be.

Get Started with Pine.blog →

A Sneak Peek of the Next Version of Pine.blog

A screenshot of the new blogging intro screen

It’s happening! In the next version of Pine.blog premium users will be able to start their very own blog right from the app or the web! The blogs are designed to be lightning fast and easy to use, and I’ve been working really hard to make everything as simple, clean, and intuitive as possible.

There’s a ton of work that’s gone into this release. I’ve been working on it since February, and I’ve crammed a whole lot of new features, fixes, and improvements into this latest version. Everything is in the finishing stages now: I’m mostly just tidying things up and doing a lot of testing to make sure everything is rock solid for release.

I’ve always said that Pine.blog was more than just a feed reader:

I’ve wanted Pine.blog to support custom blogs since the beginning, and that’s largely because I think that by making it easier to both read and write on the open web, we can give people a viable alternative to more traditional social networks and offer them an escape from the problems those platforms have…

This is why I’m so excited by what I see as the future for Pine.blog. If we want people to move off of the platforms we think are the cause of so many problems in our world, we need to give those people a place to go. Most people aren’t going to start a blog and use a feed reader unless we, as the people with the skills to do so, make the Social Web better than Social Media.


A view of what hosted blogs look like in the app

An important excerpt from Brian’s blog post about the future of social media:


[Ezra Klein to Jaron Lanier on Designing Social Media]:

If you were building, or you were redesigning a social network that would call forth our better selves… what do you think would be the parameters of that? What rules would you set such that it would urge us to be a better version of ourselves, not a worse version?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes good social media recently because of Pine. I think that a new generation of social media will revolve around the principles that users have control over what they see, that they own the content they post, and that no one person or company controls all the ways they see the world. I think that, combined, these changes make social media better for us all.