RSS Feeds Howto

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How to:RSS Feeds at Wikiversity
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Let them know what is happening with RSS
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The power of XML → RSS Feed


So you've created your wikiversity blog and you want to let people know when you post new content in? Or maybe you are an Active participant in one of the many schools here in wikiversity campus and would like to keep interested users and regular visitors abreast with developments from your school/Department?.

Wikiversity is fast growing, It is becoming cumbersome to log on/browse the watch list or recent changes page daily just to see what is poting. RSS ( and Atom ) Feeds are the solution to this problem. You only need to identify feeds that are of interest to you, subscribe to them and you will be kept uptodate on your favorite pages and Departments Here at wikiversity.

This howto will walk you through creating and mantaining RSS feeds ( Atom feeds are similar to RSS feeds ) that can be subscribed to, right here at wikiversity!

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RSS Feed: What is it?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML-based format used for publishing news or articles in a machine-readable form. An RSS or Atom file is also called a feed. A program that can be used to read such feeds is called a feed reader or Aggregator.

An aggregator automatically extracts new items from the feed and displays them in a human-friendly form to the user. The user can therefore save time with regularly-visited websites, as they need no longer manually check whether there are new pieces of information available.

RSS is available in different versions which are not compatible with each other (this situation caused by competing companies): RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0. Atom is also an XML-based feed language which has been redesigned to fit the needs of webloggers and news sites. Atom attempts to replace RSS feeds and remove the uncertainty with incompatiblities in the different RSS versions.Wikiversity supplies RSS 2.0, and Atom Feeds.

This How to, will walk you through Setting up Manual Mantained(Including how to mantain these) and Automatic/Bot RSS Feeds.


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Manual maintained RSS Feeds

Now we look at creating and maintaining an RSS Feed page for a User blog or Department Blog.

Creating the rss feed page[edit]

Having created your blog page is the first step (Please click here for a howto concerning creating Blog pages), the next is creating an RSS feed page for your Blog (Or Department Blog). This page you will need to update everytime you update your Blog (Or Department Blog).

Create an RSS feed page and a link in your Blog page to your RSS Feed page(to help in organization). This will take you to the rss feed page, the url should look similar to this.

http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/(User:[Replace with your User name]) or (Department)/Blog/rss

This effectively adds the RSS feed page as a sub-page to your User Blog Page or Department Blog page.

Edit the page and once again copy and paste the following text.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/skins/common/feed.css"?>
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">
<channel>
<title>My Wikiversity Blog</title>
<link>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog</link>
<description>(Type your Blog Punch Line)</description>
<language>en</language>

</channel>
</rss>

You have now successfully created an empty RSS Page. Save the page.

Updating/Adding your first item on the RSS Feed Page[edit]

Now that you have created the RSS page, you need to know how to add Items onto the RSS Feed that will notify those who have subscribed to your feed of new material posted on your Blog (or Department Blog) page.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/skins/common/feed.css"?>
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">
<channel>
<title>My Wikiversity Blog</title>
<link>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog</link>
<description>(Type your Blog Punch Line)</description>
<language>en</language>


<item>
<title>My first Blog Post</title>
<link>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog#First_Post</link>
<guid>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog#First_Post</guid>
<description>Hello World
This is my first blog post about my learning activity on Wikiversity. </description>
<pubDate>~~~~~</pubDate>
<dc:creator>[Type your name here]</dc:creator>
</item>


</channel>
</rss>

Notice that Adding the red highlighted text is actually adding an Item on to your RSS feed (If you are Familiar with XML scripting then you have figured this out by now) and the green Text is the content of your Item, This is what you must edit. It is wise to put a short summary of your blog post (Maybe the first paragraph?) as the body of your time. This way you let your subscribers know of your new post without boring them with details(and maybe incite them to visit your Blog page to read more).

Updating/Adding your second item on the RSS Feed Page[edit]

Now that you have created the RSS page and have successfully added your first Post notice item, you need to know how to add The second (and every other consequent) Item onto the RSS Feed that will notify those who have subscribed to your feed of new material posted on your Blog (or Department Blog) page.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/skins/common/feed.css"?>
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">
<channel>
<title>My Wikiversity Blog</title>
<link>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog</link>
<description>(Type your Blog Punch Line)</description>
<language>en</language>

<item>
<title>My Second Blog Post</title>
<link>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog#Second_Post</link>
<guid>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog#Second_Post</guid>
<description>Hello again World
This is my second blog post about my learning activity on Wikiversity. </description>
<pubDate>~~~~~</pubDate>
<dc:creator>[Type your name here]</dc:creator>
</item>

<item>
<title>My first Blog Post</title>
<link>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog#First_Post</link>
<guid>http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/[Replace with your User name]/Blog#First_Post</guid>
<description>Hello World
This is my first blog post about my learning activity on Wikiversity. </description>
<pubDate>~~~~~</pubDate>
<dc:creator>[Type your name here]</dc:creator>
</item>


</channel>
</rss>

Notice that Adding the brown highlighted text is actually adding your second Item on to your RSS feed (Ensure to insert a new item above the old item(S)) and the green Text is the content of your Item, This is what you must edit.

To add the next item you need to repeat the foregoing sequence. This way you will have successfully created a RSS feed page that you are able to mantain Manually.


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Bot maintained RSS Feeds

RSSBot is a bot run by MichaelBillingtonBot ??? to generate RSS feeds for Wikiversity learning blogs (User or Department Blogs). This bot will do all the sequences described above on Manual creation and maintenance of RSS feeds.

An example blog (and RSS feed for it) to demonstrate what it does can be found here. A list of RSS feeds which this bot maintains is located at User:MichaelBillingtonBot/Feeds

How to set up the bot to make an RSS feed of your Wikiversity blog[edit]

The bot makes a feed for every page with {{Rssbot}} on it. Here is an example use of the template:

{{Rssbot
|title       = Mr Foo's Wikiversity Blog
|description = A Wikiversity Blog
}}

Both fields are optional, but it's best you set them. Other fields are language (default is 'en', shouldn't really need to be changed) and reverse (which takes the newest items from the bottom, for talk pages rather than blogs - set this to 'true' to use this feature)

Here is an example of what you can copy and paste on your new blog page:

=My Wikiversity Blog - '''Be bold'''=
{{Rssbot|title=[Type in your user name] Wikiversity Blog|description=My Wikiversity Blog - Be bold}} Copy [http://en.wikiversity.org/w/index.php?title=User:>[Type in your user name]>/Blog/rss&action=raw&ctype=application/rss+xml this link] and paste it into your aggregator.

[http://en.wikiversity.org/w/index.php?title=User:[Type in your user name]/Blog&action=edit Add entry]

==My Second entry==
Hello Again World
~~~~

==My first entry==
Hello World
~~~~

Remember type in your user name and your Blog punch-line or slogan of your choice.
Each item has a title, description and signature.

  1. In the example above the title's are "My first entry" and "My Second entry", change the title to something more appropriate for your post.
  2. The description is like the body, in the above example it is "Hello World" and "Hello Again World", again change that to whatever you want.
  3. The last part is ~~~~ which is used to sign and date your posts.

Save page.

What is Used/Ignored by the RSSbot[edit]

The RSSbot harvests Headings and their content fom Blog pages. Use the following to control what you want the bot to harvest and that which must be ignored.

=Ignored heading=
blah
==Subheading which isn't ignored==
foo
===Subheading which ''is'' ignored===
quux

And that is it, you are set!

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Why would I want to do Manual maintenance of RSS Feeds If a Bot can do it for me?

Remember that a Bot is just an Automation of a manual task. It is to your advantage to have a knowledge of doing manual maintenance on your RSS feed page. If any thing should happen to the Bot (Which is inevitable), you will not be left in the dark, and your subscribers will still enjoy your Blog RSS feeds.

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Case for Manual maintained feeds

This method of creating and maintaining RSS feeds is appropriate for Resources that do not need regular updates and are generally maintained by a specific user or User group, eg:

  • Department/School News
  • User Blog
  • Special News and notices etc...
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Case for Bot maintained feeds

This method of creating and maintaining RSS feeds is appropriate for Resources that need regular updates and are generally maintained by a wide range of un-co-ordinated User group, eg:

  • Data base dumps of recent edits/events ( of interest to Maintenance group etc )
  • User Blog
  • Special News and notices etc...
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Rss Feeds available at Wikiversity

To subscribe to any of the RSS feeds below, simply copy the link and paste it into your aggregator and you are subscribed! The list below will probably be moved some else appropriate in future.



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References & Useful Sites
  1. The Akregator Handbook - By Frank Osterfeld & Anne-Marie Mahfouf [Released under "GNU Free Documentation License"]
  2. Practical introduction to Web browsing and Web feeds
  3. How to create feed to any website with Google Reader



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