Learning RSS

by Eric M. Burke

Related link: http://www.google.com/search?q=rss+2.0+specification

Giving a presentation or writing an article is one of the best ways to learn something new. Particularly when you have a hard deadline and cannot procrastinate. This is one of the reasons I signed up to talk about RSS - I want to learn more about it.
I also want to incorporate RSS data feeds into a few projects I'm working on, so this dovetails nicely with that.

As I dig deeper into RSS, I'm finding a few things worth noting:

  • The actual RSS XML markup is simple. Learning about the related tools and technologies is where it gets interesting.

  • RSS is deeply splintered among two competing visions. One says RSS Stands for "RDF Site Summary", the other says RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". Within these factions, you'll find numerous minor specification revisions. Most are similar, but differences remain. Writing parsers must be a nightmare.

  • The specs are really bad. I would have expected to find an official DTD or Schema, but they don't exist. The official RSS 2.0 specification is written using some really lousy HTML so it is impossible to print in a decent way. I spent the last 20 minutes stripping out the garbage (like hardcoded fonts and extra HTML tables) so I could print a legible version.

Oh well, I'll figure it out.


2004-03-08 06:14:36
I found that the RSS Perl module was a great help in generating "real" RSS very quickly. However, the fun really starts when you try and write your own applications and try to reproduce whatever other systems are doing - it's often a case of sitting down with View/Source and picking it all apart: but then that's half the fun, eh :-)