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'Adding a Web feed to compliment your web site.'

Fri 27/10/06 at 17:39:
cjh
Regular
"It goes so quickly"
Posts: 4,104
Adding a Web feed to compliment your web site.

If you head over to bbc.co.uk using an up to date web browser, you’ll notice an icon will have appeared which you may not recognise, or know the meaning of.

For the likes of Safari on the Apple Mac, this icon is a blue button with the letters RSS* and appears in the address bar, while in Opera and Firefox, the icon is an orange button with what may look like wireless waves - which also appears in the address bar. In Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer (Version 7), the icon matches that of Opera and Firefox, but appears on the browser’s task bar, rather than within the address bar.

The reason this icon appears is because the web site you are visiting (in this example bbc.co.uk) has what is known as a 'web feed' available. A web feed is a method that allows you to keep your web visitors updated with what your web site offers, without them having to personally check your site regularly.

Using a web feed to compliment your web site, a visitor can effectively 'subscribe' to your site with a click of the mouse. This allows them to keep track of when you add new content, without having to hand over their email address to a 'mailing list'.

Web feeds are by no means exclusive to web browsers. Many web sites incorporate a feed reader in to there own pages, such as Bloglines or Yahoo, or use a web feed to assist in providing page content. Stand alone feed reader applications also exist. However, with Microsoft releasing an update to its current web browser, which includes a built in web feed reader, access to feeds will be made a lot easier to millions of web users who currently aren’t aware that they exist.

To help you hop on to the web feed bandwagon, here is a basic tutorial to help get your own feed online. You don’t need any special software or major changes to your web site, and your feeds will work on Freeola without any problems.

A web feed can be built using a variety of mark-up languages, but this feed will be built using RSS 2.0, a common XML mark-up language used to create web content, but other mark-up languages also exist, such as older versions of RSS, or the atom mark-up language. If you’re a beginner to web feeds, it’s best not to worry about these other methods for the time being.

This example will be based on a web site owned by John Smith at johnsmith.com who keeps an online diary (or blog).

To start, open up any text editor (Notepad for a Windows powered PC is fine) and create a new file, saving it as feed.rss (see note at the end of this post)**. Then, copy and paste the sample code below in to the new file:




My Blog (John Smith)
http://www.johnsmith.com/
John Smith, my online diary
en-gb
1440

… then change the text within the , and elements to refer to the content you’re going to offer. The number 1440 within the element refers to the number of minutes between checking for updates, so 1440 is 1,440 minutes (24 hours) which tells the feed reader to check for an update once every day. You’re free to change this if you feel your updates will be more or less frequent, for example 2880 is every 2 days, 720 is every 12 hours, and 60 is every hour.

That is the bare bones of a feed complete. Now it’s time to populate the feed with some content. A feed is divided up in to sections, each of which need to contain a title and link. Each section is divided up using the element.

John has today bought himself a new dog, and has decided to add it to his web site blog. After doing this, he’ll need to add an entry in his web feed, which he does like so:


Today I picked up my new dog
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog
My blog entry about my new dog
pets
Fri, 11 Aug 2006 19:45:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog#comments
John Smith


The is the name given to a particular entry, which will usually match that of the main web site. In this case, John announces that “Today, I picked up a new dog”. The contains the web address where this blog entry can be viewed. The is a short description of what the web page content will be, which is usually the first paragraph (or a short part of it) taken from the web page itself. The allows you to categorise your entries, so that others can group them together if they choose (for example, Internet Explorer 7 allows the entries to be displayed by category). You may add more than one category per entry if you wish.

The is the date the entry was added (or published online) and should take the format of Day, Date Time Time-Zone. In this example, this breaks down to:

Day: Fri, (you must include the comma).
Date: 11 Aug 2006 (date month year).
Time: 19:45:00 (hour:minutes:seconds, 24 hour clock).
Time-Zone: GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

is the web address for your comments section, if you have one (as is common with most blogs). If you don’t, you can delete this line. Finally, contains the name of the author of this particular entry. For personal web sites, this will usually be the same person, but for larger web sites, this may reflect the different individuals who contribute to the site.

Again, all the above will need to be changed to reflect your own web feed.

You will need to include a separate segment of the above for each feed entry you have, trying to round it off to a maximum of 15 or so, to prevent the file getting too large. The newer entries should come first, for example, today’s entry should come before last weeks, and last weeks should come after yesterdays, in the order of:

(tomorrow’s will go here - at the top of the list)
today’s
yesterdays
last week
last month
last year

When you get to about 15, you should delete the last group before adding a new one. Make sure the new one is added to the front of the list, after the 1440 but before the first For example:

1440

--- new entry would go here ---



To finish of the web feed, you need to add the following to the end:




So, in John Smiths case, a full web feed may look like this:





My Blog (John Smith)
http://www.johnsmith.com/
John Smith, my online diary
en-gb
1440


Now I have a cat too
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-cat
My blog entry about my new cat.
pets
Wed, 30 Aug 2006 17:15:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-cat#comments
John Smith



I started my new job today
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-job
My blog entry about my new job
work
career
Mon, 14 Aug 2006 18:30:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-job#comments
John Smith



Today I picked up my new dog
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog
My blog entry about my new dog
pets
Fri, 11 Aug 2006 19:45:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog#comments
John Smith





That is the web feed complete. You’ll need to manually edit and update your personal web feed each time you wish to add something new, and upload it to your Freeola web space.

Finally, to let the viewers of your web site know that a web feed is available, you need to place the following within your HTML code, between the opening and closing elements, for example:



... or in a full HTML page ...



My web site



This is my home page.


Please subscribe to my web feed.





If you wish, you can use a different name for your web feed, you just have to make sure the value within the href="" attribute matches. You should also change the value of the title="" attribute to something more related to your web site.

You can have more than one web feed on your web site; you'll just need to make sure you give each feed a different name, and add a separate reference to it in your HTML web page, changing the value of the title="" attribute to something unique, such as:




You may also want to include your feed address on your web page, so that people who choose to use non-web browser based feed readers can copy and paste the address in to their chosen application with ease. Just make sure you include the full web address, and not just the name of the file, for example, http://www.johnsmith.com/feed.rss and not just feed.rss.

And there you have it, a quick start to a basic web feed. More options are available to you, if you wish to have a look around, but the above should suite most peoples needs. If you get stuck, as always, just head on over to the Freeola web forum, and someone may be able to assist you.

* The Safari web browser may change to also use the wireless waves icon at some point, as this is becoming the standard feed icon, as used by Microsoft, Opera and Mozilla (the organization who make Firefox).

** If Windows is not set up to handle .rss files (Windows may save the file as a normal txt file), you may need to place quotation marks to the left and right of the file name when you first save this file. When you come to open this file again later (via a double click) you may see a window asking which program should be used to open the file. From this window, choose the ‘Select the program from a list’ option, then select Notepad from the list, and ensure the ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ is ticked, then click ok. This will add the .rss file type to your Windows system, and you’ll be able to open and edit web feed files like a normal text file from this point.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

As always, any comments, questions, and especially corrections are welcome.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Fri 27/10/06 at 17:39:
cjh
Regular
"It goes so quickly"
Posts: 4,104
Adding a Web feed to compliment your web site.

If you head over to bbc.co.uk using an up to date web browser, you’ll notice an icon will have appeared which you may not recognise, or know the meaning of.

For the likes of Safari on the Apple Mac, this icon is a blue button with the letters RSS* and appears in the address bar, while in Opera and Firefox, the icon is an orange button with what may look like wireless waves - which also appears in the address bar. In Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer (Version 7), the icon matches that of Opera and Firefox, but appears on the browser’s task bar, rather than within the address bar.

The reason this icon appears is because the web site you are visiting (in this example bbc.co.uk) has what is known as a 'web feed' available. A web feed is a method that allows you to keep your web visitors updated with what your web site offers, without them having to personally check your site regularly.

Using a web feed to compliment your web site, a visitor can effectively 'subscribe' to your site with a click of the mouse. This allows them to keep track of when you add new content, without having to hand over their email address to a 'mailing list'.

Web feeds are by no means exclusive to web browsers. Many web sites incorporate a feed reader in to there own pages, such as Bloglines or Yahoo, or use a web feed to assist in providing page content. Stand alone feed reader applications also exist. However, with Microsoft releasing an update to its current web browser, which includes a built in web feed reader, access to feeds will be made a lot easier to millions of web users who currently aren’t aware that they exist.

To help you hop on to the web feed bandwagon, here is a basic tutorial to help get your own feed online. You don’t need any special software or major changes to your web site, and your feeds will work on Freeola without any problems.

A web feed can be built using a variety of mark-up languages, but this feed will be built using RSS 2.0, a common XML mark-up language used to create web content, but other mark-up languages also exist, such as older versions of RSS, or the atom mark-up language. If you’re a beginner to web feeds, it’s best not to worry about these other methods for the time being.

This example will be based on a web site owned by John Smith at johnsmith.com who keeps an online diary (or blog).

To start, open up any text editor (Notepad for a Windows powered PC is fine) and create a new file, saving it as feed.rss (see note at the end of this post)**. Then, copy and paste the sample code below in to the new file:




My Blog (John Smith)
http://www.johnsmith.com/
John Smith, my online diary
en-gb
1440

… then change the text within the , and elements to refer to the content you’re going to offer. The number 1440 within the element refers to the number of minutes between checking for updates, so 1440 is 1,440 minutes (24 hours) which tells the feed reader to check for an update once every day. You’re free to change this if you feel your updates will be more or less frequent, for example 2880 is every 2 days, 720 is every 12 hours, and 60 is every hour.

That is the bare bones of a feed complete. Now it’s time to populate the feed with some content. A feed is divided up in to sections, each of which need to contain a title and link. Each section is divided up using the element.

John has today bought himself a new dog, and has decided to add it to his web site blog. After doing this, he’ll need to add an entry in his web feed, which he does like so:


Today I picked up my new dog
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog
My blog entry about my new dog
pets
Fri, 11 Aug 2006 19:45:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog#comments
John Smith


The is the name given to a particular entry, which will usually match that of the main web site. In this case, John announces that “Today, I picked up a new dog”. The contains the web address where this blog entry can be viewed. The is a short description of what the web page content will be, which is usually the first paragraph (or a short part of it) taken from the web page itself. The allows you to categorise your entries, so that others can group them together if they choose (for example, Internet Explorer 7 allows the entries to be displayed by category). You may add more than one category per entry if you wish.

The is the date the entry was added (or published online) and should take the format of Day, Date Time Time-Zone. In this example, this breaks down to:

Day: Fri, (you must include the comma).
Date: 11 Aug 2006 (date month year).
Time: 19:45:00 (hour:minutes:seconds, 24 hour clock).
Time-Zone: GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

is the web address for your comments section, if you have one (as is common with most blogs). If you don’t, you can delete this line. Finally, contains the name of the author of this particular entry. For personal web sites, this will usually be the same person, but for larger web sites, this may reflect the different individuals who contribute to the site.

Again, all the above will need to be changed to reflect your own web feed.

You will need to include a separate segment of the above for each feed entry you have, trying to round it off to a maximum of 15 or so, to prevent the file getting too large. The newer entries should come first, for example, today’s entry should come before last weeks, and last weeks should come after yesterdays, in the order of:

(tomorrow’s will go here - at the top of the list)
today’s
yesterdays
last week
last month
last year

When you get to about 15, you should delete the last group before adding a new one. Make sure the new one is added to the front of the list, after the 1440 but before the first For example:

1440

--- new entry would go here ---



To finish of the web feed, you need to add the following to the end:




So, in John Smiths case, a full web feed may look like this:





My Blog (John Smith)
http://www.johnsmith.com/
John Smith, my online diary
en-gb
1440


Now I have a cat too
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-cat
My blog entry about my new cat.
pets
Wed, 30 Aug 2006 17:15:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-cat#comments
John Smith



I started my new job today
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-job
My blog entry about my new job
work
career
Mon, 14 Aug 2006 18:30:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-job#comments
John Smith



Today I picked up my new dog
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog
My blog entry about my new dog
pets
Fri, 11 Aug 2006 19:45:00 GMT
http://www.johnsmith.com/my-new-dog#comments
John Smith





That is the web feed complete. You’ll need to manually edit and update your personal web feed each time you wish to add something new, and upload it to your Freeola web space.

Finally, to let the viewers of your web site know that a web feed is available, you need to place the following within your HTML code, between the opening and closing elements, for example:



... or in a full HTML page ...



My web site



This is my home page.


Please subscribe to my web feed.





If you wish, you can use a different name for your web feed, you just have to make sure the value within the href="" attribute matches. You should also change the value of the title="" attribute to something more related to your web site.

You can have more than one web feed on your web site; you'll just need to make sure you give each feed a different name, and add a separate reference to it in your HTML web page, changing the value of the title="" attribute to something unique, such as:




You may also want to include your feed address on your web page, so that people who choose to use non-web browser based feed readers can copy and paste the address in to their chosen application with ease. Just make sure you include the full web address, and not just the name of the file, for example, http://www.johnsmith.com/feed.rss and not just feed.rss.

And there you have it, a quick start to a basic web feed. More options are available to you, if you wish to have a look around, but the above should suite most peoples needs. If you get stuck, as always, just head on over to the Freeola web forum, and someone may be able to assist you.

* The Safari web browser may change to also use the wireless waves icon at some point, as this is becoming the standard feed icon, as used by Microsoft, Opera and Mozilla (the organization who make Firefox).

** If Windows is not set up to handle .rss files (Windows may save the file as a normal txt file), you may need to place quotation marks to the left and right of the file name when you first save this file. When you come to open this file again later (via a double click) you may see a window asking which program should be used to open the file. From this window, choose the ‘Select the program from a list’ option, then select Notepad from the list, and ensure the ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ is ticked, then click ok. This will add the .rss file type to your Windows system, and you’ll be able to open and edit web feed files like a normal text file from this point.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

As always, any comments, questions, and especially corrections are welcome.

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