Wouter Dijkstra

I make things like VoiPPush, FileFish & HappyMaps.

Automatically generating images for narrowcasting purposes

Automatically generating images for narrowcasting purposes

Written by Wouter in Projects on

Over at Pulseplay, one of our customers requested news items from their local outlets to be featured on their new narrowcasting solution.

Good old RSS feeds

Luckily enough, the local news outlet provides a good old RSS feed. Actually, 11 of the local outlets here in The Netherlands got together and started using the same Publication Platform: RegioGrid.

RegioGrid's platform provides a standardized RSS feed for us to periodically check for new news updates.

At Pulseplay we've built a little tool that reads the RSS feeds every couple of hours, and add all news items to our database table.

Generating Images

After reading the feeds and adding new news updates to the database, we're dispatching queued instances of an Image Generating job. Put simply, this loads a Browsershot instance, passing in one of a few templates we've designed.

Honestly, 'designed' is a bit of an overstatement.

Pulseplay Example Image 1
An example of the images we generate would look something like this.

And now a more realistic example:

Pulseplay Example Image 2
Source: RTV Noord

After generating images, they are briefly made publicly available so they can be downloaded by the narrowcasting playout server. We'll call an API endpoint that tells the server a new media item is available and provide the media URL and some more metadata.

Throughout the day the whole process happens a few times so the latest news is always available at our customer's venue!


I've never found a good way of programatically 'generating' images online - using PHP. For this purpose, using the Browsershot package by spatie seems perfect! I've not had any hickups in the whole process, and it's all been very wonderful.

Pulseplay News Article

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