Automatic Discovery of RSS feeds (NEW! Updated Three Times)

by Ben Hammersley

Two days ago, Matt Griffith has come up with the smart idea of using the HTML link element to point to a site's RSS feed from the site itself - thus allowing automatic discovery of RSS feeds.

By adding a line like this:

<link rel="alternate" type="text/xml" title="XML" href="" />

a site would be providing metadata as to the location of its feed - and this would allow newsreaders, browsers and search engines to automatically locate the feed.

Things are moving quickly with this. This morning, Mark Pilgrim released bookmarklets for Radio and Amphetadesk that allow users to subscribe to RSS feeds found in this manner.

As Mark says, "If we can persuade existing weblog authors to insert this one line of code, and then get it into the default templates of Radio, Manila, and Movable Type, and we could make news aggregation an order of magnitude easier."

Many already are. From my Content Syndication with XML and RSS blog to all of the channels at News is Free.

There is much good thinking about this to be found at today's DiveintoMark

UPDATE: Bill Kearney already posited this idea last year.

UPDATE TWO: Syndic8 is now on the memewagon. All of the feed info pages now have their very own <link> tags pointing back to the feed shown on the page. And so is Meerkat. Also,
Bloxsom has also been updated to add the correct code.

UPDATE THREE 22:47GMT: Dave Winer has just created the feature in Radio Userland. Instructions are here - and a Manila upgrade is in progress, he tells me.