Quickly add journal articles from a feedly RSS feed to your Mendeley library

feedly -> Mendeley

I’m a big fan of subscribing to academic journals’ tables of contents in RSS form. It allows for quickly browsing all the recently published articles and flagging ones of interest for further reading.

I also depend on a reference manager to keep my articles of interest organized and accessible. Plus, it makes bibliography generation so much faster!

But it’s hard to find an RSS reader that plays well with an online reference manager. Read on for my solution for importing journal articles from feedly to Mendeley.

Steps

  1. Install a browser plugin that allows you to run custom JavaScript after a site loads. On Firefox, download Greasemonkey. On Chrome, download Tampermonkey. Or see other options.
  2. Install the custom JavaScript program that I wrote, feedly2Mendeley, to add a Mendeley import button to feedly.
  3. When in feedly, make sure you are in the list view (Settings > Presentation > Title Only) as shown below:

    Screen shot of Settings > Presentation > Title Only in feedly

    On the upper right corner of the feedly site, select Settings > Presentation > Title Only

  4. Hover over an article of interest and the Mendeley button will appear, as shown below. Click this button to open a new tab where Mendeley will import the article into your library:Mendeley import button in feedly list view
  5. That’s it! Unless you also want to download MendeleyTagger, another Javascript I wrote to make your time on the Mendeley import page more efficient as well.

Note, if the Mendeley button does not appear, check out the section “Choose which button the Mendeley importer replaces” below.

Details

Before I wrote this script, I tried out the new “Custom Sharing Link” on feedly, which is only available if you go Pro (currently $5/mo or $45/year). It allows you to add just one custom URL button for sharing articles from feedly. That would have been sufficient for me – Mendeley provides import URLs that only require you to plug in a URL to the journal article’s website or the DOI of the article. But upon trying the custom URL, I found that not all the journal article URLs made available to feedly were actually in a format that the Mendeley import site could understand.

I decided to try writing a Greasemonkey script. Greasemonkey allow you to customize any website with your own JavaScript code, to add, alter, and remove functionality as it suits you.

I had never used Greasemonkey or programmed in JavaScript before, but I was able to write a couple of simple scripts so that I can easily import journal articles from feedly to Mendeley. First, I wrote feedly2Mendeley, which replaces either the custom sharing button or the tweet button in feedly (when in list view) with a Mendeley import button. This will work even if you don’t have Pro access to feedly, because all the sharing functionality is provided by the Greasemonkey script.

Upon clicking the custom sharing button, a new tab will open, showing whether Mendeley was able to extract the information from the URL provided by feedly via the Greasemonkey script. If the article information was found, just click the “Save” button and you’re done!

I wanted to decrease the number of clicks though, and also tag all articles that enter my library via this Mendeley URL. So I wrote another script, called MendeleyTagger, that adds a specific tag each time, and then sets the focus on the “Save” button so that I just have to hit the “Enter” key and it will import. Then, if the article is successfully imported, the MendeleyTagger script will cause the Mendeley import tab to close, returning to the feedly tab so I can continue through the list of remaining articles.

Choose which button the Mendeley importer replaces

If you don’t have feedly Pro, the default script behavior is fine for you – it replaces the custom sharing button with the Mendeley button. If you do have Pro and use that button for something else, or if you do not see a paper airplane button when you hover over an article title, you will need to edit one line of script to make the Mendeley button take over a different button (Twitter or Facebook are options for now; let me know if you want a different button replaced).

To change which button Mendeley takes over:

  1. After installing the feedly2Mendeley script, you will need to edit one word within the code. To edit the code in Greasemonkey, click the Greasemonkey button in the browser toolbar, choose “Manage user scripts…” and then find the “feedly2Mendeley” listing. Click its “Options” button, and in the dialog that opens, click the button at the bottom that says “Edit this user script”. To edit the code in Tampermonkey, click the Tampermonkey button and choose “Dashboard”. Then click on the “feedly2Mendeley” script title to open the script code in the editor.
  2. Scroll down to line 61, where it says:
    ButtonToSwitch = "Custom";
  3. Replace “Custom” with either “Twitter” or “Facebook”.
  4. Save the changes: in Greasemonkey, click the “Save” button (second from left) at the top of the editor window. In Tampermonkey, click the save icon in the editor toolbar (second button from left, NOT the save to disk one) and then click “OK” to the dialog that pops up.
  5. Make sure the script is enabled and then reload your feedly page.

When Mendeley can’t find the journal article

The feedly2Mendeley script takes into account some of the odd URLs that are sometimes made available to feedly for the journal articles; odd URLS that the Mendeley importer can’t understand. In my case, URLs provided by eLife, ScienceDirect, and the Nature family of journals proved problematic. I was able to find solutions for them all, so that Mendeley can read them in. If you have trouble finding a workaround for another journal, feel free to let me know here or at my userscript site and I can help you out. Also feel free to leave feedback about the scripts and to customize the scripts for your own purposes, within the terms of the license.

Customizing the MendeleyTagger script

The MendeleyTagger script automatically adds a tag called “toread” to the import form. You can easily change this behavior to add a different tag, multiple tags, or no tag at all. To edit the script after you have installed it, first follow the steps to get into the script editor as detailed above in the “Choose which button the Mendeley importer replaces” section, except make sure you are editing the MendeleyTagger script and not the feedly2Mendeley one.

Then, scroll down to line 50, which reads:

x.value="toread"

If you want different tag(s) to appear in the import form, change “toread” to something else (for multiple tags, remember to separate by a “;”). If you do not want any tags to appear, simply comment out that line by adding two slashes to the beginning:

//x.value="toread"

Then follow the instructions as above in the “Choose which button the Mendeley importer replaces” section for saving changes to your script.

EDIT: the userscripts site may be down. Note that these scripts will also always be available in a BitBucket repository.

*Note: feedly and Mendeley, the products represented in the post and images above, are copyrighted by their respective owners.

24 thoughts on “Quickly add journal articles from a feedly RSS feed to your Mendeley library

    • Hello, the scripts should only run when you are on a feedly page (or the Mendeley importer page). From the background of your screen shot, it appears you are still on this blog website. If you open a tab that points to feedly.com, the “No script is running” comment should change to “feedly2Mendeley” and the Tampermonkey icon in the browser toolbar should show a red “1” symbol on it to signify that one script runs on that page: Screen shot of Tampermonkey on feedly page. The URLs that the script will run on are specified in the header of the script:
      feedly2Mendeley:
      // @include http://www.feedly.com/*
      // @include http://feedly.com/*
      MendeleyTagger:
      // @include http://www.mendeley.com/import/?url=*
      // @include http://www.mendeley.com/import/?doi=*

      If your feedly address is something different, let me know and I will include that in the script to make sure it activates correctly on your system. Also, fyi, the scripts are written in JavaScript, which is quite different than Java despite the similar names. Thanks for trying out the scripts and let me know if this does not solve the problem!

  1. my feedly URL seems to be: http://feedly.com/index.html#my so there shouldn’t be problems with that. I’ve tried restaring, but it didnt change anything. Could it be a problem that I use adblock? I have tried opening the menu while in Feedly, but I don’t get anything that is similar to your screenshot. May I should re-do the installation process. I’ll let you know if I get it to work.

  2. Ok, I’d made one quite obvious mistake in that I wasn’t actually using the Mendeley import plugin – i was only using the “save to mendeley” bookmark. I installed the plugin, and now I get a red number on the tampermonkey button when I’m on the feedly tab. However there is still no “send to mendeley” button when I hold my cursor over the article title. Any idea of what I’m doing wrong?

    cheers.

    sjurdur

    • That’s a good start that you see the red number on the Tampermonkey button when on the feedly page. If you click on the Tampermonkey button, does it list “feedly2Mendeley” as in the screen shot in my comment above? If so, then try refreshing the feedly page. Also, is your feedly view set to “Titles Only”? If not, set the view by pressing the gear icon in the upper right corner and then refresh the feedly page. And finally, what buttons become visible when you hover over the title – do you see a circle icon, a twitter icon (bird), and custom sharing icon (paper-airplane ), etc?

      I don’t think the adblocker should affect Tampermonkey’s ability to run scripts, but you may try temporarily disabling it to see if that has an effect, and then refreshing your feedly page.

      If none of these work, when you hover over the title and the custom sharing icon (paper airplane) appears, right click it, choose “inspect element” and then post the screen shot of the code that appears at the bottom of your tab.

  3. please see my screenshot: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3853579/Screenshot%202014-02-03%2016.06.13.png

    It appears to be running, but there is no suggested button in my feedly when I hover over it. You can also see the icons in the screenshot. I also tried to disable adblock, but it didn’t help…

    I think there is something funny going on with the custom share tool. I have turned off the facebook sharing button (I don’t use FB at all), but that is still the one that appears as the custom sharing icon, This is what the “inspect element” says:


    • Hello, I see the issue now – as you say, there is no custom sharing button present for Mendeley to take over. Since the facebook button keeps appearing, but you don’t actually need facebook functionality, we can make the Mendeley button overtake the facebook one instead. Try these steps and let me know if this works:
      1. Click the Tampermonkey button in the toolbar and choose “Check for userscript updates”
      2. After it finishes, click the button again and this time choose “Dashboard”
      3. feedly2Mendeley should be listed with Version 1.6. If it has a different version, manually remove the script and install the new one from userscripts.org
      4. Click on the “feedly2Mendeley” script title to edit the script code.
      5. In the editor, scroll down to line 61 where it says: ButtonToSwitch = “Custom”;
      6. Change the “Custom” to “Facebook” so it says: ButtonToSwitch = “Facebook”;
      7. Click the Save icon in the Tampermonkey editor toolbar (second button from left, NOT the save to disk one)
      8. Click “OK” to the dialog that pops up.
      9. Ensure Tampermonkey is enabled and the feedly2Mendeley script is enabled
      10. Reload the feedly tab.

      I have similar trouble with feedly deciding to show certain buttons in “Title Only” view that are not the ones specified in my button preferences. Not sure why this is.

  4. Hi Marianne, I can’t make it work. No Mendeley icon anywhere… 🙁 Any idea of what’s wrong? Using Firefox on Windows 8.1. What kind of info would you need? This script is really awesome by the way. Thank you!!

    • Hi Daniel, sorry it’s not working yet. Let’s see – first, what view (aka “presentation”) are you in? If you click the gear icon in the top right corner, it should show you. Right now the script works in “Titles Only” mode, though I am looking to make it work in other modes as well. If you are in Titles Only mode, when you hover over an article entry, what buttons do you see on the right side of the entry? (such as twitter, facebook, buffer, custom, etc).

  5. Oh wow, thank you for the fast response!

    Yes I am on the “Titles Only”, actually, I changed it to all my feeds and not only for my “ToC” folder, still nothing. When I hover, I only see the “open in browser” and the “twitter” icons. When I click on the article (to see the abstract within Feedly) I see more icons, including the “custom sharing” plane.

    I made a pdf with both screen captures, you can see it here:
    https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D7293058_72802250_6760676

    Thanks a lot for your help Marianne, I really appreciate it!

  6. UPDATE, OMG, SUDDENLY, IT WORKS!

    Ok, sorry for the “spam”, something happened, it suddenly works! May be it takes some time for feedly to actually update the changes in my options?

    Anyways THANK YOU! This really is going to make my life sooo much better. You make people happy Marianne, THANKS!!

    • Hi Daniel, great, you’re welcome! I’m glad it is working, and thanks for letting me know.

      I’m not sure why it took awhile to start, but if anyone else runs into this problem, some things to try are forcing a complete refresh of the page, and also going into the feedly preferences to make sure that whatever button the script is set to take over (ex: Twitter, facebook, custom; default is custom) has been set to show up in the view.

  7. Thank you, that’s so great! I had to change the following: Download script from userscript-mirror.org, because link above didn’t work (found via google). Add https://… to the script because feedly uses secure connection. The hover-button didn’t work so I changed the Twitter button. Now it works! Making my life easier 🙂

  8. Hi Marianne,

    Thank you for your wonderful initiative. Exactly what I was looking for, for the past year.
    I followed your instructions: downloaded the feedly2Mendeley-script from https://bitbucket.org/mbezaire/feedly2mendeley, added it to the userscripts in Firefox (activated).
    But what to do next?
    I don’t see a Mendely-icon/White bird when I hover the cursor over the title in title-mode.
    Please help me out?

    Best regards,

    Wim

  9. Hi Marianne,

    Thanks for the excellent extension – it’s super useful, and your installation instructions are quite clear. Question, though – why does the extension only work when Feedly is in “Title Only” mode? I like reading through articles in full article mode, and would love to be able to save to Mendeley from that view: I’d like to tweak your script to allow this behavior, but didn’t see any obvious locations in the script where this behavior could be modified, and thought I’d check with you before diving in too far over my head. Is there something about the way that the document responds to the getElementsByClassName method that doesn’t work in other views?

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