How to Realize a Daily Activities Widget in WordPress Sidebar using SimplePie

How to Realize a Daily Activities Widget in WordPress Sidebar using SimplePie
  • 11 June 2009
  • Tutorials, WordPress
  • This post was written exclusively for PV.M Garage by Piervincenzo Madeo
  • Comments (20)»

It’s the moment of Social Networking and Social Bookmarking. Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Facebok… yes, maybe I’m doped! Yes, I believe in the power of the Social Connection. So I decided to show my social on-line life on PV.M Garage. How?

See in the bottom of my sidebar and you’ll understand. I’m convinced that sharing my updates on social web-site the reader could know more about me and my thinking and for this he could be encouraged for returning on my blog.

In this post I explain how I’ve realized the Daily Activities Widget with the stream of my updates on Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Delicious. The following information are valid only using WordPress.

To reach our purpose we use Simple Pie.
What is Simple Pie? It is a code library, written in PHP, intended to make it easy for people to manage RSS and Atom feeds. Imagine? It’s so!

I suggest to you a backup of the theme folder in WordPress because we’ll modify sidebar.php, style.css and we’ll add the folder for Simple Pie Cache and the Library itself.

How to use Simple Pie

First download the Simple Pie Library, after unzip the package and copy in theme folder in your WordPress installation (presumably /wp-content/themes/yourtheme). Create a new folder called cache, this useful for caching system of our PHP Library that optimize the loading process of our web-page (learn more here “How does SimplePie’s caching system work?”).

Now add the following code in the top of sidebar.php to “activate” the RSS reader.

    //get the simplepie library
    //grab the feeds
    $feed = new SimplePie();
    //our list of RSS
    //enable caching
    //complete path for caching system
    //set the amount of seconds you want to cache the feed
    //init the process
    //let simplepie handle the content type (atom, RSS...)

Watching code

See the previous code and observe the array of RSS url. You can find them in your settings.
Activate with true boolean the cache and put the complete path of your cache folder in $feed->set_cache_location.
Remember that the folder for caching must be writable (chmod 777), read more on Change the file permissions to be server-writable?

Insert Widget on Sidebar

Now insert the following code to add a widget in the sidebar.php of WordPress.

<div class="sidecontdaily">
<!--<h2>My daily Activities</h2>-->
<ul class="daily">
  <?php foreach ($feed->get_items(0, 5) as $item): ?><!--show 5 entries-->
    <div class="info">
     <p><span class="date"><?php echo $item->get_date('j M Y'); ?> | <?php echo $item->get_date('g:i a'); ?></span></p><!--date and time-->
    <img src="<?php $feed = $item->get_feed(); echo $feed->get_favicon(); ?>" class="icon" alt="" /><!--icon of social web-site-->
    <h5 class="dailycont"><a href="<?php echo $item->get_permalink(); ?>"><?php echo $item->get_title(); ?></a></h5><!--title-->
    <p><span class="linkfeed"><a href="<?php $feed = $item->get_feed(); echo $feed->get_permalink(); ?>"><?php $feed = $item->get_feed(); echo $feed->get_title(); ?></a></span></p><!--social web site-->
  <?php endforeach; ?>

Watching code

In this example we’re simply going to display five recent headlines, for this reason we insert <?php foreach ($feed->get_items(0, 5) as $item): ?>. Below you can see methods.

  • <?php echo $item->get_date(‘j M Y’); ?> returns the date;
  • <?php echo $item->get_date(‘g:i a’); ?> returns hour;
  • <?php $feed = $item->get_feed(); echo $feed->get_favicon(); ?> returns social web site favicon;
  • <?php echo $item->get_permalink(); ?> returns entry url;
  • <?php echo $item->get_title(); ?> returns entry title;
  • <?php $feed = $item->get_feed(); echo $feed->get_permalink(); ?> returns your profile url;
  • <?php $feed = $item->get_feed(); echo $feed->get_title(); ?> returns your profile name;

Style it!

Now modify the style.css. In my theme I’ve added the following code:

/*Simple Pie Style*/
.sidecontdaily {
margin: 0 0 15px 40px;
width: 278px;
background: url(immagini/dailyact1.png) no-repeat top;

ul.daily {
list-style: none;
padding: 90px 10px 50px 25px;
background: url(immagini/dailyact2.png) no-repeat bottom;

ul.daily li {
padding-bottom: 35px;

h5.dailycont {
font-size: 12px;

h5.dailycont a {
color: #69695f;

h5.dailycont a:hover {
color: #d54e21;

.info {
padding: 10px 0;
} {
background-color: #69695f;
color: #eee;
padding: 1px 3px;
font-size: 10px;
font-weight: bold;

img.icon {
float: left;
padding: 3px;

span.linkfeed {
background-color: #69695f;
float: right;
padding: 1px 3px;
margin-top: 3px;

span.linkfeed a {
color: #eee;
font-size: 10px;
font-weight: bold;

Conclusion and Source Files

With this hack we add a little box where we show our daily on-line activities, you can learn more about the use of Simple Pie in these articles: Easy feed reading with SimplePie; How to Create a Lifestream of Your Online Activities; Adding RSS Content with SimplePie.

Download Source

Author: Piervincenzo Madeo

From a little city in the South of Italy, a web designer, a coder, a blogger. This is Piervincenzo, just a guy who has a great love for creativity and enjoys making high-quality stuff and sharing good information about web design and development.

website design and development


  1. Rafal

    Great article. Added to Resource.

  2. ForWebber

    Great?! It’s amazing! Good for many uses.

  3. scribu

    Nice article. A quick note: If you’re using the latest version of WordPress, you don’t need to add SimplePie because it’s aldready there in wp-includes.

  4. piervix

    Thanks guys for positive comment…

    @scribu: yes, I’ve read. Thanks for reporting, it’s correct and punctual.
    In the last version of WordPress (2.8) there is the simple pie class in wp-includes folder (wp-includes/class-simplepie.php), so we don

  5. MonWebDynamic

    Great… it’s so useful! It’s work… amazing trick without plugin!

  6. betatea

    There is fetch_feed($feed_url) function defined in WordPress that uses SimplePie and its caching sublibrary.

    You effectively rewrote this function :)

    • piervix

      Check the date, dear. This tutorial works with WP 2.7-

      The function fetch_feed($feed_url) works for 2.8+

      Thanks for the comment.

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