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Open Graph for Personal Projects

scrabill profile image Shannon Crabill Originally published at shannoncrabill.com on ・3 min read

A way to make your posts stand out on social media is to include images. According to Buffer, Tweets with images can get up to 150% more retweets. So it makes sense to include some kind of visual element instead of dropping a link and calling it a day.

For a long time, I wondered how some links I would share would automatically get nicely formatted images, headlines and links. Was it possible to implement something like that on my projects so that I automate and improve the link-sharing experience?

Yes!

This functionality can be implemented using The Open Graph protocol.

I’ll walk through how I step it up on one of my projects.

Implementing Open Graph

The introduction says it well. In describing the Open Graph protocol, it says:

The Open Graph protocol enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph.

The graph it refers to is an object that is created by including basic metadata tags in your webpage.

Your website probably has metadata tags like <meta charset="UTF-8"> or <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">.

The Open Graph tags use the same, self-closing <meta /> tag structure with some additions. Each Open Graph meta tag has property and content attributes. The property attribute, describes or categorizes the value in the content attribute.

For Open Graph to work, there are 4 required properties for each webpage.

Those properties are:

  1. og:title
  2. og:type
  3. og:image
  4. og:url

Detailed descriptions of these tags can be found in the Basic Metadata section of the documentation. But, they make up the core elements of those media-rich posts that we see on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Using my Halloweenti.me project as an example, my 4 meta tags look something like this.

<meta property="og:title" content="How Many Days Until Halloween?" />
<meta property="og:type" content="website" />
<meta property="og:url" content="https://halloweenti.me/" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://halloweenti.me/my-image.jpg" />
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Once my HTML file is pushed live, sharing the link to halloweenti.me automatically renders the image that I specified along with a title and URL to the website.

Looking Nice

Prior to adding Open Graph, sharing the https://halloweenti.me/ link in Discord looked like this.

An example of what the URL looks like without The Open Graph protocols

I mean, I think this site it awesome, but it’s probably not grabbing anyone else’s attention.

This is how it looks now.

How the URL looks after including an image that I specified, title and description.

Wow! That is easier to see and gives more context to a user who is just scrolling by. You can also see how the 4 required properties show up in the social media preview.

Conclusion

What I like about The Open Graph Protocol is that it’s relatively easy to implement and there are additional meta tags that can be added for richer content examples. I included a description for my project, but there are tags that are relevent for dated content like blog posts are articles.

I reccomend giving The Open Graph protocol a try so that your projects can better stand out on social media.

Resources

The post Open Graph for Personal Projects appeared first on Shannon Crabill — Front End Software Engineer.

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