My blog to book software

That stupid CBT talk-about-it pain group I got myself involved with in the hospital is a real downer. It’s really pretty negative for me, I don’t like having to think about pain all the time and I just dread the days I’m supposed to go, and have “skipped class” a couple of times because I just dread it so much. I just don’t think it’s healthy. Better to get on with what life you have left, at least if you’re like me and your pain isn’t psychiatric in nature. So I’ve been programming like nuts to try and keep my mind off unpleasant things. On that note…

There are a few commercial services out there that aim to print your blog for you into book form, but because my blog is so large and some of the formatting is problematic, none of them were able to do what I wanted. So, with the aid of Prince to do the final stage of printing (I can’t recommend this tool enough), plus a couple thousand lines of custom XML parsing code by yours truly, I have a tool that does a beautiful job of converting large blogs into book form, with complete formatting. It does the obvious stuff like turn links into footnotes, but it has some sneaky tricks up its sleeve as well like grabbing thumbnails for embedded videos and reformatting a variety of oldschool-HTML tables, which was important for me since a lot of my entries are old and imported from IAM when you had to do that sort of thing from time to time. Oh, and it has fancy comment inclusion ability as well but after a lot of waffling, I decided not to include comments in this printout.

Anyway, I’ll post more in a couple weeks when I get back the 2011 yearbook that I just ordered (about $60 for a hardcover 236 page letter-size full-color book seemed pretty reasonable), but until then let me really quickly post some screengrabs of the production PDF file:

My tool is WordPress specific, as it works with the XML export dumps, and for now, it’s pretty specific to my blog. Might be most helpful for me to share the custom CSS files I wrote, since they actually do a significant percentage of the work — much of the parsing and cleaning of entries could be done by hand on anything but the largest blogs (which unfortunately includes Zentastic, with thousands of entries). I’m happy to share it and/or the source code if someone wants it, but while it could be useful to others developing XML parsers, specifically for print conversion, I doubt it would be easy to make it work on any old blog.

[Comments are disabled on this post because there was something about it that was making it an over-the-top spam-magnet]


  1. JKT wrote:

    Hey Shannon,

    I’d definitely be interested in the source for this tool. The idea of a printed year book of posts is great (for a personal, non-transient archive). I run wordpress mysel, so it sounds like it’ll be compatible.

    If you’re happy sharing, please email :)

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink
  2. starbadger wrote:


    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  3. starr wrote:

    ever try yoga & meditation breathing? with some good music and a side bowl if ur not drugfree

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  4. Shannon wrote:

    Oh yes, of course, I do not discount the role that things like breathing can play in bringing ones pain down to its minimum level. For some people “lifestyle” type treatments can be more effective than “medical” type treatments, and in all people, they can at least ensure that you’re not artificially inflating your pain level (which is all too common)

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  5. Amanda wrote:

    Shannon, do you know any tattoo artists in Edmonton that you’d recommend?
    I’ve read your blogs for several years now, I just rarely comment but you’re definitely the person i’d trust most when it comes to body modification. I moved to Edmonton less than a year ago, and so I don’t know any shops here and I’m looking to get a smallish tattoo. Bit of a long shot since you live on the other side of the country, but thanks for any help you give!

    Friday, February 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  6. dAN wrote:

    hey Shannon, as always your productivity amazes me

    I just watched this talk about digital preservation which made me want to come back here and tell you: you’re doing it right :)

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  7. It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before finish I am reading this enormous piece of writing to improve my knowledge.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink