There are a few things that have happened in this decade that I look at and think, “Man, I’ve gotten old.” Things like trying to figure out why Kendrick Lamar is so popular, and hearing that OK Computer turns 20 years old this week are just natural progressions on life moving on, and newer things taking over. One thing that I still don’t understand is how RSS feeds have fallen out of favor in the technology and information world. When Google Reader shutdown in 2013, that still makes me shake my head. RSS feeds and readers are such an easy and effective method of distributing information. But, apparently, I’m old, and can’t see the future in the social media distributed content world. I feel like going out on to my porch and yelling at this concept to get off my lawn and bring back my wonderful RSS distribution processes!!
It may be a post-RSS world, but I’m not going out without a fight. There are many times where I’ve gone to websites that distribute information, but do not give you an option for using RSS to let you see new information as it is created. Luckily, I came across a handy tool that allows me to create RSS feeds myself.
Feed43 is a straightforward tool to create a free RSS feed out of almost any website. It takes a little bit of HTML or XML knowledge, but once you’ve set up a couple of feeds, it really isn’t all that hard to master. They even have an advance interface to use to create the output template.
The way that Feed43 works is that it extracts the data via “HTML scraping” and looks for patterns within the code to pull back the relevant content. The content is then organized and the information is pulled together using output templates and forms a user-friendly feed. That feed is converted into a valid RSS feed on the fly and can be placed into your RSS reader application. In my case, it is placed within SharePoint pages to update current awareness tools. We also augment our news aggregator with these RSS feeds for sites that may normally be outside the scope of our aggregation system. Some news aggregators may do that for you, but even those that scrape webpages for new content, may benefit from this type of RSS creation because it limits the scope of the content it is processing. In other words, you’re more in control of what is important on those pages.
I was thinking of drafting out a step-by-step instruction showing how to create your own RSS feed from a website, but luckily for both of us, Feed43 already did this for us. Here are some links that will help you understand how to create your own feeds:
- How Does Feed43 Work?
- Understanding search patterns and output templates
- Step-by-step example of feed setup
- Create new feed