Using the BETA Fluent API to import blog posts from an RSS feed

Using the BETA Fluent API to import blog posts from an RSS feed

September 08, 2010 0 Comments

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As a side project, I’m experimenting with moving Sitefinity Watch to the Sitefinity 4.0 BETA.  As of this writing, there are no migration tools that can be used to migrate blog posts from Sitefinity 3.x to Sitefinity 4.0.  We will eventually deliver these migration tools, but this project gave me an excuse to experiment with using Sitefinity 4.0’s Fluent API to import content.

Ivan Osmak highlighted the Fluent API in our Sitefinity 4.0 BETA webinar.  The Fluent API enables .NET developers to query and manipulate Sitefinity data in very powerful ways. 

Disclaimer:  What I’m going to share in this blog post needs a lot of work.  I’m not yet done with it.  Later I’ll explain the issues I still need to solve.  However, rather than sit on this code for weeks, I wanted to share what I have working.  Later I can iterate.  Alternately, if someone wants to steal this code and extend it…feel free.  I will gladly link to your blog posts and credit your work.

My Very Basic Goal

As a first step, I simply wanted to point to an RSS feed and import these RSS items into a Sitefinity 4.0 blog.  This obviously isn’t a full fledged import utility, but it’s a reasonable first step. 

Step 1: Create a Blog

Before importing blog posts, I needed to first create a new blog in Sitefinity 4.0. 

Creating a new blog in Sitefinity 4.0

This was the easy part.

Step 2: Open and prepare the Sitefinity project

There are some assembly references that needed added before custom code can be added to a Sitefinity project.  This instructions (and links) below describe how to prepare a Sitefinity project for custom development.

1.  Open the Sitefinity project in Visual Studio

Opening a Sitefinity 4.0 project in Visual Studio

2.  Add the missing assembly references.  <- Important!!

Adding a new reference to a Sitefinity 4.0 web application project

3.  Add an assembly reference to System.Linq.Xml

Adding a reference to System.Xml.Linq

The project is now prepared for custom development.

Step 3:  Create a Blog Import ASPX page

To import blog posts, I needed to run a small bit of code within the context of my Sitefinity web site.  There are various strategies for doing this (for example, I could create a custom UserControl or use Sitefinity Services), but I chose to create a new ~/blogimport.aspx page in my Sitefinity web site.

The instructions below describe how to create this ASPX page:

1.  Right-click the SitefinityWebApp project in the Solution Explorer and click New Item

2.  Select Web Form and type blogimport.aspx for the Name

 Adding a new Web Form item to a Web Application Project

3.  Open the code-behind file for the blogimport.aspx page

The codebehind file for the Blog Import ASPX page. 

Step 4:  Create the code

The code for fetching the RSS items and importing these items into Sitefinity (using the Fluent API) is posted below.  Comments have been added throughout the code to explain what is happening.


using System;
using System.Linq;
using Telerik.Sitefinity;
using System.Xml.Linq;

namespace SitefinityWebApp
    public partial class blogimport : System.Web.UI.Page
        protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
            // Get the RSS feed from Sitefinity Watch
            var blogRSS = XDocument.Load("");

            // Get the RSS items from the feed
            var rssItems = from d in blogRSS.Descendants("item")
                           select d;

            // If the executing code isn't wrapped in a using, then changes aren't committed
            using (var fluent = App.WorkWith())
                // Get the blog object associated with my Sitefinity Watch blog
                var blog = (from b in fluent.Blogs().Get()
                            where b.Title == "Sitefinity Watch"
                            select b).FirstOrDefault();

                // Print the ID, to confirm I got it
                Response.Write(blog.Id.ToString() + "<br />");

                // Loop through each RSS item
                foreach (var item in rssItems.ToList())
                    // Print the Title for each blog post
                    Response.Write(item.Element("title").Value + "<br />");

                    // Add the blog post from the RSS feed to my Sitefinity 4.0 blog
                        .Do(b =>
                            b.Title = item.Element("title").Value;
                            b.Content = item.Element("description").Value;
                            b.PublicationDate = DateTime.Now;
                            b.ExpirationDate = DateTime.Now.AddDays(10);

Step 5: Import the RSS blog posts

The blog posts found in the RSS feed can be imported by accessing the import page in a web browser.  Because the Sitefinity Fluent API is bound by Sitefinity permissions you must be authenticated before accessing the page.

1.  Login to Sitefinity

2.  Access the ~/blogimport.aspx page in a web browser.

Opening the Blog Import ASPX page in a web browser

3.  View the blog in Sitefinity to confirm the blog posts were imported.

Blog post count in Sitefinity 4.0

Some parting words

This is a nice first step.  However, this is not a fully developed import process.  The technique described above has several challenges associated with it. 

For example:

  • Old URLs are not preserved
  • Images associated with the blog posts aren’t imported
  • Only blog posts found in the RSS feed (15 posts) are imported

These are challenges that I still need to work through.  In the meantime, this might be useful to anyone who is experimenting with Sitefinity’s Fluent API. 

Thanks to Ivan Dimitrov and Robert Shoemate for helping me with this code.


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