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Making an RSS Feed

By Sharon Housley
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004

Everyday more and more websites, news services and blogs are adding RSS content. RSS is a method of syndicating content.The concept of aggregating content in one central location or repository is very appealing. Consumers have become tired of push technology, RSS allows users the flexibility to regain control of their content. RSS feed creators provide content without forcing it on consumers. In fact with RSS consumers are able to choose the content they wish to view.

How to Make an RSS Feed
RSS feeds contain what are referred to as "items". The items are usually connected in some way and contain a common theme or other similarity.

The following feed (http://www.notepage.net/feed.xml) contains eight items. The items are all SMS and paging related news articles that would likely benefit someone interested in the wireless market.

Each item contains:

title
description
link
The title and description should be written to describe the content and the link should reference the webpage that contains that actual content.

Like html, the xml file uses open and close tags to designate the title, description and link. Tags are enclosed in brackets , like standard html and the close tag contains a forward slash /.

The following is what an item in a xml file looks like:

titleThe Title Goes Here/title
descritpionThe description goes here/description
link(http://www.linkgoeshere.com/link)

As I mentioned earlier, an RSS feeds contains items and like the tags above, an open and close tag is used to distinguish between items.

item
titleThe Title Goes Here/title
descritpionThe description goes here/description
link(http://www.linkgoeshere.com/link)
/item

item
titleAnother Title Goes Here/title
descritpionAnother description goes here/description
link(http://www.anotherlinkgoeshere.com/link)
/item

Now an RSS Feed is a series of items, these items are chained together to create what is called a "Channel".

The Channel appears at the top of the file and tells people how the items relate to each other. Like items channels use title, description and link tags to describe its content. The open channel tag chanel occurs before the first item and the close tag /channel occurs after the last item.

channel
titleThe Channel Title Goes Here/title
descriptionThe explanation of how the items are related goes here/description
link(http://www.directoryoflinksgohere/link)

item
titleThe Title Goes Here/title
descritpionThe description goes here/description
link(http://www.linkgoeshere.com/link)
/item

item
titleAnother Title Goes Here/title
descritpionAnother description goes here/description
link(http://www.anotherlinkgoeshere.com/link)
/item

/channel

Finally you will need to designate the file by indicating it is an XML file by inserting xml and rss defining tags at the beginning and /rss at the very end.

?xml version="1.0"?
rss version="2.0"
channel

titleThe Channel Title Goes Here/title
descriptionThe explanation of how the items are related goes here/description
link(http://www.directoryoflinksgohere/link)

item
titleThe Title Goes Here/title
descritpionThe description goes here/description
link(http://www.linkgoeshere.com/link)
/item

item
titleAnother Title Goes Here/title
descritpionAnother description goes here/description
link(http://www.anotherlinkgoeshere.com/link)
/item

/channel
/rss

When you save the file be sure to save it as an xml file.

Warning
If you create the file using Dreamweaver or a similar tool becareful that it does not strip out tags it feels are redundant. In order to be be an RSS feed your file needs at bare minimum that tags that were discussed above, and the file will not be valid if tags are stripped out.

I found a cool little free program that helped in xml file creation called First Object Editor (http://www.firstobject.com/)

Validation
As my math teacher use to say, check your work! Once your file is complete and uploaded einter it into the feed validator at (http://feedvalidator.org)

Syndication / Submission
If you've made it this far you are in good shape it is time to "syndicate" your content! Submit your RSS feed (the xml file you created) to sites just like you would submit a web page. Some of the more popular sites that accept RSS files can be found under "Post RSS Feed"
(http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/rss-feeds.html)

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. (http://www.notepage.net) a company specializing in alphanumeric paging, SMS and wireless messaging software solutions. Other sites by Sharon can be found at (http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com) , (http://www.messaging-software.net) and (http://www.small-business-software.net)