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How to Build An RSS Feed

Mark Woodman

O'Reilly & Associates


Robert Donovan


This was an interesting read. It starts off with an overview of how an RSS feed works and then covers the basics(stress basics here) of XML as used for RSS feeds. The article then walks you, step by step, through
building a sample RSS 2.0 feed for a ficticious web site, using the XML elements previously discussed in the article. Screenshots of how the feed looks in the Bloglines and Newsgator online RSS readers at a couple of different
points in the construction of the feed. I was able to get this sample feed to show up in Blam using a dummy web page in my web server in my network at home.

The rest of the article deals with best practicies for creating and managing your own feeds. A number of sample scripts are provided for use with XSLT, PHP, and JAVA1.4 with JAXP and ROME. Podcasting in feeds is also
mentioned as well as the DublinCore and CommentAPI RSS extension modules. Again a number of example files are presented. I didn't have time to really experiment with any of these, and, frankly, would have had to do a bit of
research to do much with them. Fortunately, numerous web links are provided for the purpose if you want more detailed knowledge. The article finishes with a number of suggestions for using RSS and some links to examples of RSS feeds used by organizations such as Google and eBay.

Overall, I found the first part of the article to be the most informative up through the section which walked you through creating the sample feed for the imaginary web site. The rest of the article consisted mostly of a
paragraph, some example code, and a web link to the source site for more information. The intended audience is people who already are familiar with XML, JAVA, PHP, or other scripting languages and just want to get the 411 on
applying this knowledge to setting up an RSS feed, but if you have the time to go through the learning curve, the links provided in the article will provide a lot of information for you to chew on. On balance, I would recommend this PDF for the three chapters, which I found very informative, and for the fact that it gathers a lot of good links all in one place.

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