And now for something completely different: a tutorial on setting up an RSS feed. I e-mailed this to a friend recently, then realized that I spent hours searching for an explanation this simple somewhere on the net. Perhaps some poor benighted sole seeking similar information will find this in Google and be spared my search process.
Compiling an RSS feed is much easier than I had realized before I started doing it. I avoided it for a couple of years because I figured I didn't have the time, and didn't understand what the hell it was. In the end, it only took me a half day to get up to speed and about 15 minutes to prepare it.
Basically, it is a structured summary of the material you have available each week, contained in an html-like file which you place on your web site. my file, psacot.rss (it doesn't really matter what filetype you use, but most people use .rss) is attached. People then point their RSS feed reader at it. The feedreader periodically looks to see if there is something new.
An RSS file can have a maximum of 15 stories in it, but people's feed readers keep the old stories from last week as well.
You can get a great, free RSS generator here: www.nightskyobserver.com/RSSGen/
You can get a great free feed reader here: www.feedreader.com
It is always a good idea to be the first to look at your RSS feed each week, to make sure nothing "funny" has happened.
Each item consists of headline, URL and description.
To walk you through the file, there is some stuff on top that the generator can't handle, so I add it in every week by hand (or rather, did add it before typepad started doing it for me). I would imagine it is pretty clear what you'd have to swap out to make this code work for you. Be sure the rss version and channel tags are at the top. Do not change them.
<title>P.S. A Column On Things</title>
<description>Paul Schindler's weekly self-published column</description>
<image> <title>Paul Schindler</title> <url>http://www.schindler.org/paul_rss.jpg</url> <link>http://column.schindler.org</link> </image>
<managingEditor>firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Schindler) </managingEditor>
Then there is the individual item. These can be generated by the RSS generator, which creates the tags, converts any non-standard characters and generally makes sure you don't leave anything out. Here's one example:
Here is what the generator will come up with:
<title>*Historic PowerPoints* *How To Start Your Day With A Positive Outlook*</title>
<description>Historic PowerPoints: First Lincoln, now Jefferson (Declaration of Independence) How To Start Your Day With A Positive Outlook: Microsoft Windows can help!</description>
Again, I think you'll find the tags (the stuff between the angle brackets <>) very clear; you'll note that every open tag has a close tag (the same word with a / in front of it)
The simple RSS generator cannot handle a "comments" field or a "category" field, so I add those by hand to the generated code. They look like this:
I put them just before the description and they work fine.
It is possible a more sophisticated generator could add them, or you could just leave them out.
Finally, DO NOT FORGET TO CLOSE EVERYTHING AT THE BOTTOM
If you don't, no feedreader will accept your RSS file.
Post the resulting text file on your site; call it http://www.domain_name.com/name.rss, then tell people to start pointing at it. Update it each time you post a new item. Voila!