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RSS Part II: Feeding Your Website
By Mark Daoust
October, 2006, 13:10

Using RSS feeds, put your information at the fingertips of Internet surfers.
ow that you understand the basics of RSS feeds (read Part I), we'll look at putting feeds on your website. Again, don't worry if we get a bit technical on you. It will all make valuable sense in the end.

Why would any webmaster choose an RSS feed over a JavaScript, iFrame, PHP, or other type of feed? The answer is simply flexibility. With an RSS feed, you can take the content, arrange it how you want, make it fit the exact look and feel of your website, and control how much or how little information you are displaying on your website. And, unlike JavaScript, search engines will be able to read the content you are displaying on your site.

But how, exactly, do you take the content that is formatted to the RSS feed and turn that into workable HTML on your site? There is no other way than to parse the information using programming code. Now, if you are not a programmer, don't be frightened by this. Because RSS is so well organized, converting information from an RSS feed to HTML is actually very simple.

The first way is to use an RSS parsing script. To find a good script that does this, just go to, or any other script repository, choose the programming language that you are most comfortable with, and look under the XML section. This is usually a webmaster's preferred option. Because of many webmaster's unfamiliarity with programming languages, pre-written scripts are a good way to get that RSS feed on your website in no time.

If you are feeling more adventurous, you can attempt to parse the RSS feed on your own. Although this may sound like a daunting task, it is actually a lot easier than it seems. Remember, RSS exists to organize information. Because RSS presents you with information already organized into consistent, recognizable tags, pulling information out of an RSS feed becomes highly simplified. Even better, parsing RSS feeds is a popular topic on the Internet, and you will find many applicable and informative articles with a simple Web search.

Many webmasters do not have any knowledge of programming at all and do not feel comfortable installing scripts or writing their own parsing scripts. Although it is highly encouraged that all webmasters learn to not fear programming languages such as PHP or ASP, you always have the option to hire a programmer to write a quick RSS parser for you. In all reality, if your requirements are simple, an RSS feed parser should take an experienced programmer no time at all to write. You shouldn't have to pay much to have this done for you.

RSS is useful for authors, distributors, and publishers. If you have a lot of information, or if you have information that quickly changes, RSS enables you to syndicate that information more efficiently than any other technology currently available. Therefore, there is reliable viral marketing value in providing an RSS feed. If you want to incorporate information from another website, an RSS feed offers that information in a highly organized fashion allowing you to easily translate the feed content into any format you prefer.

RSS both places your information at the fingertips of thousands across the Web and gives you access to the Web's best content. Because of the many benefits of RSS for everyone with information they want to broadly distribute, you can expect longevity for RSS technology.
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