RSS Feeds – Tools, Tips, & Techniques

RSS Feeds are utilized all over the Web. The most common use is when you go to a common news portal such as one provided by: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. In addition, many people are starting to utilize “feed readers” as a type of personalized managed portal tool to easily manage and read all the RSS subscriptions they have subscribed to. Today many governmental agencies have already provided RSS feeds for their news releases and subscription notifications to the public.

Simply put, RSS is accomplished by publishing an XML file in RSS format. You could do this manually by going to the following website for the RSS 2.0 specification, and then fill in the information between the right tags (but this can become complex and unmanageable very quickly.)

If your website is served up based on a content management system (CMS), RSS is usually a built-in feature of your CMS. If you do not have a CMS, there are numerous tools you can utilize to create and manage your RSS file.

Once you generate your RSS file, upload it to your website and then provide a link to it from a webpage. However, to enhance how your RSS looks, its functionality and visibility, and track statistics on its use and performance, you will need to utilize other services.

The most common and powerful service for accomplishing this is Google’s “FeedBurner.” Once you register your feed on FeedBurner, you will find a large set of new ways to enhance how your feed is published and read. FeedBurner  will enable your feed to be found and read by a much greater audience by publishing your feed out to other websites and feedreader formats. For more information on how to best leverage FeedBurner for your feed, go to FeedBurner – Optimize, Syndicate, and Track RSS Feeds.

Additionally, you can leverage other free services from SpringWidgets, WidgetBox, and AddThis. This webpage demonstrates some of the capabilities of these free services. Finally, in addition to FeedBurner there are other more “pinging” services available on the web also that will cause your feed to be indexed and consumed by many other services on the Web where the public frequents. The most commonly utilized one is the Pingomatic service that was actually started by the same company that started the, largest blogging service available on the Web. (Note: actually Feedburner utilizes Pingomatic as one of its pinging services.) Take a look at these pinging services, and the informational services they ping to select the best places to index and republish your feed information to reach the audience you are trying to reach:

RSS Feed Displayed in a Webpage

There are ways to display RSS feed information directly from your RSS feed file and on to your own webpage as fully accessible HTML. The Office of Technology Services has established an RSS-to-HTML solution that you can obtain for free and install if you have a MS Windows server with ASP scripting enabled (demonstrated below). If you cannot do Windows ASP on your server, there are numerous other server-side solutions available that you can install on your own server identified within the following article on the Web: RSS To HTML – How To Convert RSS Feeds Into Published Web Pages – A Mini-Guide