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Posts tagged with 'disqus'

One of the things that I've always liked to have on my blogs over the years is a "latest comments" widget. I like to leave all my blog posts open for comment indefinitely, and this gives users a way to see the latest comments, even if they are on very old blog posts.

Disqus doesn't have a "drop-in" JavaScript snippet to do this, but Disqus does have an extensive HTTP API that allowed me to build my own.

The terminoloy that Disqus uses was a little confusing for me, but by reading some of the docs and trying a few tests in Fiddler, I was able to see that the forums/listPosts API endpoint was the one I wanted. You'll need to make sure that you have a public key generated in order to use the endpoint. Here's the widget I wrote:

Some notes:

  • Disqus rate limits you to 1000/requests per hour. For my blog, that's probably more than enough.
  • This script depends on jQuery, but you can use something else for your DOM manipulation, even plain JavaScript if that's your jam.
  • I was at least partially inspired by Raymond Camden blogging about something similar.

Because Akismet has been letting me down recently on this site, I've decided to 'outsource' the commenting and spam checking to Disqus.

Installing Disqus is a piece of cake. You sign up and drop some JavaScript onto your site. Even the "# comments" that you see near the top of this post is taken care of by just pasting some JS.

But there are two things that I would potentially lose that I was concerned about:

  1. My "legacy" comments
  2. My Latest Comments widget (which I'll cover in part 2)

If I were migrating from WordPress or some other well-known blog software, it would have been really easy. WordPress->export, Disqus->import.

However, this site runs on my own home-grown blog engine (for better or for worse). I could have just left my legacy comments alone, and let them exist side-by-side on older blog posts. I called that "plan B".

But once I knew that I could import from other engines, well, I assumed there must be a way for me to "fake" it. It was a little bit of work, and it still might not be perfect, but it worked.

I researched the formats that Disqus can handle. One of them is the WordPress WXR format, which is based on RSS, which is based on XML. So, all I had to do was figure out how to generate the right XML. There isn't really a "spec" on the WXR, at least not one that I could find. Luckily, Disqus publishes specs for their own Custom XML Import Format, which is a version of WXR. Once I had that, it was a piece of cake to create an "Export to WXR" button on this very site. Here's roughly what it looks like in an MVC Razor View:

Some notes:

  • I used generated Guids for the comment_id. I'm not sure if it makes any difference from an import perspective, other than they should probably be unique.
  • I put both comment_date and comment_date_gmt. I don't believe that comment_date is actually used, but I put them both in there just in case.
  • Notice the <![CDATA[ ... ]]> within the comment_content. The CDATA is a way to encode data within XML tags that an XML parser might otherwise attempt to interpret.
  • The BlogPostName is the friendly English version (e.g. "I like balloons"). The BlogPostSlug is the URL-friendly version (e.g. "I-like-balloons").
  • I used Html.Raw because otherwise Razor seemed to have trouble parsing what I was generating. I'm not worried about any sort of DOM injection, since this export utility is behind auth. But generally, you should be wary of using Html.Raw in Razor

To import, I just saved the output of this view, and went to Disqus Import, and uploaded the file. It goes into a processing queue, and the time it takes with vary depending on how many comments you are importing and (I assume) how many other workloads that Disqus is trying to process. I imported 86 comments multiple times, and it generally took about 5 minutes at most.

Matthew D. Groves

About the Author

Matthew D. Groves lives in Central Ohio. He works remotely, loves to code, and is a Microsoft MVP.

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