Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

RSS Feeds

by Eric Stewart on May.16, 2009, under Technology, The Internet

Yeah – lotta tags on this one.  Bit of ground to cover.

First, there are now RSS feeds available for all of the … “syndicated” parts of

So – what is an RSS feed?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” from what I’ve read.  Any site that goes through serial updates (like blogs, comics, what have you) can implement RSS feeds.  Readers can subscribe to feeds using feed-enabled software (such as Google Reader, which is what I’m playing with right now); and Firefox has Live Bookmarks – where feeds can be added to your Bookmarks menu (creating a “folder” where individual articles are listed as bookmarks, and updated as the articles on the site are updated).

RSS feeds are XML based.  I hadn’t played much with XML.  I understood it in concept but had never directly dealt with its use.  The shorthand explanation (since you’re reading this and not clicking on the links) is that XML is is a standard that specifies the format of a customized markup language (HTML, the language of the web, is a markup language).  I don’t know if I can make it truly clear; if you need to read something in or save something out to a file, you can create your own standard for the file using XML.  So, to create the RSS feed for my PHP and MySQL driven SCUBA site that was written by yours truly, I just had to create something that would produce the XML formatted output when requested.

It had been a while since I had seriously played with PHP and even longer since I had done any MySQL work (getting the SQL queries right in particular took a quick bit of research).  Thow in learning the RSS feed language (which can be very specific, particularly when it comes to how dates are formatted), it took a few hours for me to code it up and get it to validate properly.

So, if you think I’m worth following, and you use RSS feeds to keep track of your regualrly visited forums, blogs, or other regularly updated websites, you can now pull feeds from the three main parts of!

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