Content-type: text/html; charset=utf-8 ~ Stephen's Web

How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad, a Web Server, and a Beer

An RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed is an XML file used to describe the contents of your website. As your website content changes, your RSS feed changes. Other computer systems, known as 'aggregators' or 'harvesters', read your RSS feed everyt once in a while. If you have provided new information, the aggregator takes that information and sends it to readers around the world. Thus information about your site's contents is 'syndicated', that is, rebroadcast to a much larger audience.

Step One: Getting Ready

Notepad: an RSS file is a plain text file. This means it can be created with any ordinary text editor. Windows Notepad will do the job. You can also use Wordpad or even MS-Word. But you will have to be sure to save your file as plain text. Any formatting breaks the RSS file. Save in plain text only. I prefer to use a text editor called NoteTab. It is a plain text editor and never surprises me with unexpected formatting. http://www.notetab.com In Linux I use Bluefish. http://bluefish.openoffice.nl/

The server: if you have a website, you have a server. The server is where your website is located. You need to be able to load files to your server. If you can put your home page on your server, you will use exactly the same process for your RSS file.

The beer: get a beer from your fridge or buy one from your local store. Open the beer.

Step Two: Find a Template

The easiest way to create an RSS file is to copy someone else's. You don't need to worry about this; you will be replacing all of their content, and the format of the file is freely licensed for use by anyone. Here is a short, simple template file you can use:

(Copy everything below this line, but not including this line)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>
 <rss version="0.91">

 <channel>
 <title>OLDaily</title>
 <link>http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.htm</link>
 <description>OLDaily - By Stephen Downes </description>
 <language>en-us</language>

 <image>
 <title>Stephen's Web</title>
 <url>http://www.downes.ca/images/rss.gif</url>
 <link>http://www.downes.ca</link>
 <width>90</width>
 <height>36</height>
 </image>

<item>
 <title>Attack Update</title>
 <link>http://www.downes.ca</link>
 <description>
 OK, here's where we stand. I have no email into
or out of downes.ca - this means that if you are sending me
email to stephen@downes.ca it will fail. It also means that
newsletter mailouts are failing (at least, I think they're
failing...). Additionally, all scheduled processes have
terminated, which means that Edu_RSS will be updated
manually. I have no tech support until at least tomorrow,
so it looks like we'll be limping along like this for a
bit. Again, please note, email sent to me at downes.ca is
not reaching me. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July
22, 2003
 </description>
 </item>
 <item>
 <title>Attack on Downes.ca</title>
 <link>http://www.downes.ca</link>
 <description>
 Downes.ca was off the air for a few days
following a denial of service attack. We are back for now
but things are still touch and go. I'll keep you posted. 
By Stephen Downes, July 21, 2003
 </description>
 </item>
 </channel>
 </rss>

(Stop copying at this line. Do not copy this line.)

Take the text you have just copied and paste it into your text editor. Save this as a new file called (say) mysite.rss - you can call your saved file anything you want, but it is a lot easier if you indicate the name of your site and use .rss as an extension, just so people can tell by looking at the title what your file does. Remember to save the file in plain text format. Take a sip of the beer. You've earned it.

Step Three: Defining Your Channel

Now look at the file you have just copied into your text editor. Near the top, notice that there is a line that says <channel>. The information following this tag, and above the tag that says </channel>, will be where you describe your website as a whole.

You need to enter four pieces of information. The information goes between the tags, where information about my site is currently located. Delete the information about my site and type in the information about your site. Specifically:

    title: this is the title of your site
    link: this is the URL to the home page of your site
    description: this is a short description of your site
    language: this is the language your site is written in (you need to use the official format for this, so if your site in English, just leave this line the way it is)

You only need to create this part once. You can change it any time you want, but you do not have to. Once this part is done, therefore, it is done forever. Take a sip of your beer. You've earned it.

Step Four: Your Image

This part of your RSS file is optional; you don't have to add an image if you don't want to. Your image will be used by some aggregators to provide some visual identity to your RSS feed.

You will need to create an image first. Use any image editor (I use PaintShop Pro - http://www.paintshoppro.com/ ). Your image should be very small: my image is 90 pixels wide by 36 inches deep. You can either create a new image for your site image or do as I did: use PaintShop Pro to capture a bit of the site that looks nice, then reduce it in size.

You can put your image anywhere you want, but I recommend uploading it to the same directory as your RSS file.

Then describe your image in just the same way you described your channel: by replacing my text and using your own.

    title: the title of your image, usually the title of your website. This is often used as an image 'alt' tag.
    url: the location of your image on the web. Use the FULL url, including the http
    link: the URL people are sent to if they click on your image. This is usually the same URL as your channel link URL
    width: the width of your image, in pixels
    height: the height of your image, in pixels

As with the channel tag, once you've done this step once, you never have to do it again. This was a long step, so take a couple of sips of beer.

Step Five: Defining Your Links

Your site may contain one or more articles you want readers to read. This is the part that changes from time to time. For example, Technology Source publishes a set of eight or so articles every two months. So every two months, you need to change this list, to reflect the current contents of Technology Source.

Each article is described by an <item> tag. In the example above, I have included two items. You can see that the description for each starts at the <item> tag and ends with the </item> tag.

In between the item tags are some tags containing information about the article. To create information about an article, remove the information about my articles, and replace it with your own. If you have more than two articles, copy an article tag (everything between and , including these tags) and paste it below the second item, and above the </channel> tag. Then enter your content:

    title: this is the title of the article
    link: this is the URL of the article itself
    description: this is a short summary of the article. Note that I use description to include information about the author and the date.

Create an item for each article. Then save your file and have a sip of your beer.

Step Six: Escape Characters

Now we come to the trickiest part of creating an RSS file.

An RSS file is an XML file. Some characters are illegal in XML. So you have to 'escape' them, that is, insert a text string in their place. Here is the list I use (not all of these are strictly required, but using this full list ensures maximum safety).

    & - replace all instances of '&' with the following: &amp;
    - Don't forget the URL! Many URLs have ampersands in them.
    - If a link element is http://www.mysite.com/index.cgi?n=4&p=5 then you must change it to http://www.mysite.com/index.cgi?n=4&p=5

    " - change every full quote to &quot;
    - For example: He shouted, "Fire!" becomes, He shouted, &quot;Fire!&quot;

    ' - change every apostraphe to &apos;
    - For example: It's his bike. becomes It&apos;s his bike.

    > - change every 'greater than' character to &gt; - but DO NOT change them in the tags.
    - For example, <description> am > three feet tall</description> becomes <description>I am &gt; three feet tall</description>

    < - change every 'less than' character tag to &lt; - but DO NOT change them in the tags
    - For example: "<description>I have < five dollars</description> becomes <description>I had &lt; five dollars</description>

    Step Seven: Uploading Your File

    Upload your file to your web server. It is best to put it in the same directory as your home page, though you could place it anywhere you want.

    You now have a working RSS feed. Congratulations. Have another sip of beer.

    Step Eight: Validating Your RSS File

    Strictly speaking, this step is optional, but it is strongly recommended since it's easy to make a mistake on step six.

    To validate your RSS file, go to an RSS validator on the Web and enter the full URL of your RSS file into the form. Click the button. If there are any errors, the validator will tell you about them. Otherwise, it will validate your file.

    Here are some validators:

      http://aggregator.userland.com/validator

      http://feeds.archive.org/Fvalidator/

      If your feed is valid, have a sip of your beer. Otherwise, correct the error and try again.

      Step Nine: Advertising Your Feed

      You need to tell people that your feed exists. They are not (necessarily) going to find it through Google. There are two major ways to do this.

      First, add an XML button to your home page. An XML button is a little organge image that links to your RSS file. You've probably seen them on other web pages. Get a copy of the image (one is located at http://www.downes.ca/images/xml.gif ) and upload it to your website.Then place the image, with a link, on your home page. For example, place the following code on your home page:

      <a href="http://www.mysite.com/mysite.rss"><=img src="xml.gif" width=36 height=14 alt="RSS feed for this site" border=0></a>

      Second, you can submit your site's RSS feed URL to various aggregators. This will tell them to start checking your RSS feed for updates. Here are some aggregators:

        Daypop: http://www.daypop.com/info/submit.htm
        Syndic8: http://www.syndic8.com/suggest.php?Mode=data
        Edu_RSS: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/xml/feeds.cgi

      Finish your beer. You're done. Don't forget to recycle the bottle.

      Note: these are instructions for creating a basic RSS feed. The RSS standard can be extended in a variety of ways. But this is a good starting point: your feed will be fully functional, and most important, it will work. Get to know and love your feed. After a time, you may want to look at the world of RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 and the various ways to add more information. When you add functionality, you will use the same process: find a template, apply the rules, and validate. But give it time. Be comfortable, then move on.

Enclosure:
Share |

Comments

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Really its very helpful [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

tks for the info. I used the same to create an RSS for my site www.maketourplans.com/tour-singapore with wordpress however it gives an error XML or text declaration not at start of entity. pls help. [Comment] [Permalink]

http://www.cabhire.in

24/7 Booking Helpline No: 9663333296 / 9900833338, chauffer driven car rentals and car coach tours in India. Corporate Car Rentals in Bangalore, Luxury Car Rentals in Bangalore, Rent a Car Bangalore, Bangalore car rental services, car hire services Bangalore.
[Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Thank you so much for your really helpful guide.
Didn't think I could put together an RSS feed and after working through your very clear instructions I now have one on a site and another being planned. Brilliant!
Much appreciated! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

dmitry, creating rss in notepad no harder than using the http://www.create-rss-software.com [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

thanks for the tutorial. can you please recommend a software for wysiwyg rss creation. i have tried a several tools, for example feedforall, rss builder, but my feed is not valid. this site http://www.create-rss-software.com says that the RSS must have only a title and description, but feedvalidator.org says that my feed is not valid anyway! help!! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

You have to upload your RSS file to a web server. If you're creating RSS by hand you'll typically use FTP to upload to a server. To obtain a server, you typically get one from a service provider, but any site that allows you to upload (and link to) files should do. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Sorry I just gave you the wrong email address, please answer to the corrected one. My question was:
This is wonderful to take me step by step through the entire procedure. I am stuck however on uploading the notepad file info to my weblog. I am on blogspot, where I can add the RSS as a gadget. This gadget is asking for a URL. How do I convert my notepad txt file to URL?
Thank you [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

This is wonderful to take me step by step through the entire procedure. I am stuck however on uploading the notepad file info to my weblog. I am on blogspot, where I can add the RSS as a gadget. This gadget is asking for a URL. How do I convert my notepad txt file to URL? [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

With the helper function there would be no blue borders. Since getElementsByClassName is a live connection to the document, both the length and the elements at each index CHANGE as you remove elements from the document.

The reverse would be even worse. Adding classes to elements based on getElementsByClassName would create an infinite loop, since i will never be less than collection.length. Every time you add a new class the length increases by one and the loop never ends. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Thank you! This is a wonderful article, very easy to read and understand unlike many others that I have found. The writers of the other articles seem to believe that their readers already know all about RSS. If this was the case we wouldn't even be searching for help. [Comment] [Permalink]

russia tours

I do not even know with incredibly blog greatly that helped me. God bless you "All of life's riddles are answered in the movies." - Steve Martin [Comment] [Permalink]

Hi there!

I just can not imagine with incredibly blog greatly that helped me! God bless you "Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." - Lao Tzu [Comment] [Permalink]

Cheers for a great article!

Thanks a lot for your explanation, it was a very fun to read article and very useful... With a few more like this I'll be drunk ;) [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Adding rss news targeted by keywords/url to your web site is much easier with this
http://www.rssphere.com
[Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Hi,
Thanks for the nice article.
It seems not working for me thouth.
can u pls check this.
I have put RSS in this page.
http://www.e-nowave.com/neela/seo.php

rss is located here
http://www.e-nowave.com/mysite.rss

IT DOES NOT SHOW IT IN THE BROWSER.. BUT THE FILE IS THERE.

I added a txt file but it shows in the browser.

http://www.e-nowave.com/mysite.txt

how can i fix this.

Thanks in advance.. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Thank you for such clear and concise instructions on how to do this. I've been working on some SEO for my sites and being a newbie am not very familiar with feeds and such. Until recently, thought they only way a site could ever been "seen" is if you pay for sponsored advertising. lol I have since done tons of research and realize that is not true, but I didn't know where to start.

Your site is great and your explanation is very easy to understand. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes people who are familiar with computers, html, programming, etc., forget that not everyone is as familiar with it as they are. You obviously know what you are doing, but you didn't forget about us newbies that might not know. Thank you!

Christy

i hope you don't mind me leaving my links.
Penny Bidz
Incomes Are Home [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Great stuff,

Does it work with wine as well?

Thanks
Thomas [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Hi Stephen,
This is great! I have two questions though.
1. I'm writing a feed for work and am gathering related information from several places, which means that my links are from different websites. Will this be a problem when I want to post the feed?
2. I have my description and link lines in the opposite order to your example. Will this be a problem?
Thank you. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Steve,

This is clearly a great article and you've helped a lot of people. Of course there are tools out there that will create an RSS feed for you, but your article helped me to understand what is actually going on!

Looks like a couple of people ran into the same problem I did with the file extension. As your article suggests, I created a file, .RSS, (e.g. pubassist.rss) and the file was simply not recognized. Neither the server nor my browser could see the file. I got "The page can not be found." message from the validators and directly through the browser.

F.Y.I. Neither IE or Firefox could see the file with the RSS extension. Neither did it matter whether the feed was on a Windows or Linux server. As you suggested, I changed the filename to "pubassist_rss.xml" and voila! the server could see the file. So could the validators.

One other note: I had trouble with the validators you mention. I found another from the RSS Advisory Board:

http://www.rssboard.org/rss-validator/

This validator not only worked, but made helpful suggestion to improve the portability of the feed. Very easy to follow.

Hope this information is helpful to others. Thanks again for shedding light on this subject.
[Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Steve,

This is clearly a great article and you've helped a lot of people. Of course there are tools out there that will create an RSS feed for you, but your article helped me to understand what is actually going on!

Looks like a couple of people ran into the same problem I did with the file extension. As your article suggests, I created a file, .RSS, (e.g. pubassist.rss) and the file was simply not recognized. The neither the server nor my browser could see the file. F.Y.I. Neither IE or Firefox could see it. Neither did it matter whether the feed was on a Windows or Linux server. As you suggested, I changed the filename to "pubassist_rss.xml" and voila! the server could see the file. So could the validators.

One other note: I had trouble with the validators you mention. I found another from the RSS Advisory Board:

http://www.rssboard.org/rss-validator/

This validator not only worked, but made helpful suggestion to improve the portability of the feed. Very easy to follow.

Hope this information is helpful to others. Thanks again for shedding light on this subject.
[Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I can't thank you enough ... wow ... what an easy to follow straight forward tutorial. I appriciate you taking the time with your talents and sharing it with us. The beer idea was splendid too, and helped me much. Thanks again ... [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I am not clear on one point.
If I have four different web pages with changing content and want a webfeed on each, do I not need four different rss files? Different link and description on each one.
Surely I cannot do this with one rss file.
[Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With php

Hi i want to create rss feed using php.Can u plz help me.It should also get update after every 5 mins.Like say am using times of india's news rss feed than how to write in php & also it should get refresh every 5 mins [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Thank you for taking this step by step and walking us through the process. The only thing that could have made it better would be if you bought the beer! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

If you have the url of the RSS feed you can use rss.bloople.net to create a script to embed the feed (with styles) into your web page. The service is free and has no ads. The script is under the MIT license.

Just paste in the url and then tick the options that you want. You can have your feed embedded using JavaScript, PHP or HTML. It is very easy to use and if you run into trouble you can always post a question to Brenton at http://blog.bloople.net/tag/RSS2HTML [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Boss, you are great. I never came across so simple and easy explanation of something technical, which actually works. You are amazing. Thanks! I have created my RSS feed and now looking for ways to updating and submitting the feed automatically. you rock! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I could kiss you!!! You have NO idea how helpful this was to me. I knew it had to be this simple!!!! OMG!!! BLESS YOU DEAR FRIEND!!!! [Comment] [Permalink]

Nothing ever validates for me

But this did. The beer made it better. You rule.
Also, your thingy keeps telling me I'm a robot. I swear I didn't know.

Thanks! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Unfortunately, I didn't have beer so I used soup instead and it still worked!
Thank you - this was very helpful. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Thanks a lot. A wonderful explanation. Very very easy to catchup. once again thanks a lot. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad-image instruction

>Your image should be very small: my image is 90 pixels wide by 36 inches deep<

Is this correct? 90px by 36 inches

or should it be 90px by 36px? [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

This is a great outline of rss feeds. I used it to generate alot of feeds to upload to wordress from many different sites. Thanks alot! :)

Ashley
http://www.answerblip.com/ [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Hello;
So I've followed the instructions to create my own rss feed and have uploaded the file to my hostgator account.
My question is where do I get the URL so that I can validate it?
I've been to my homepage and do not see it. There are no other pages to visit as this is a new site - so where can I get the URL of my new feed if not on the homepage?
When I check this file in My Documents it has a white envelope as an icon and "Windows Live E-Mail" as the text next to it. What does this mean?
(FYI; I Googled "Rss for Dummies" and found this site - just to let you know where I'm coming from...)
Any help or direction would be appreciated. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I'm failing to get desired success with creating RSS Feed

Following experiment illustrates the problem. www.democracynow.org/podcast.xml displays properly as a feed page in IE8 BUT when I copy the entire source code into Notepad, the resultant file does NOT display as a formatted feed page. Instead, I just get a parse-formatted xml file.

That's also how my other notepad created rss files display.....WHY?

steve rosen
roswell, GA [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I'm glad someone else caught the deal of not changing the ampersand in the example...I thought I was losing it (maybe it's just the beer) so I scrolled through all the comments to see and I'm happy to see that I'm not losing it.

Thanks - I'm trying to get to the bottom of this RSS feed thing but I, like a few others, am looking for a way to pull info from elsewhere in a website and repurpose it elsewhere but this is a great jumping off point [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Hi there,

A very useful page of information about how to create an rss feed. For those who are less technical or just can't be bothered with XML you can also use http://rssa.at to create an rss feed for you.

Thanks,
Tom [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Okay, this is all good. Now for us dummies.

I have Coffee cup Flash RSS which creates an rss feed and xml and php files. I go to the validators and it says it cannot open the file when I point it at mywebsite/path/file.xml

Do I need to create a file with a .rss extension?
I looked at the xml file and it looks nothing like the example (template.) Does that mean what I need to do is create the feeds I want my subscribers to receive separate from the thing I paid Coffee Cup software $29 for? [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

hi. thanks for such good article. It's very important. Till now I use http://rsschannelwriter.com/ RSS Channel Writer and never try to write RSS myself. Of course I save time by using program, but I thought it is very interesting to write yourself!!! I'll try! :)
Thanks again! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I'm setting up a rss for google. It's telling me that I need to include condition and price. Where do I put that and how would it be written? [Comment] [Permalink]

Thanks for the great tips!

Thanks for the great tips! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Thank you Stephen....Your article was excellent explanation. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I did not finish my beer :-( [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

Hi Stephen

Thanks very much for your article - it explained in great detail the necessary steps to create feeds - as a result I've now produced a new software tool to allow users to transform structured Sense Editor documents to RSS (0.91) Feeds directly without needing any knowledge or contact with XML!

The tool and background information on why and how this may be achieved is available on my website http://www.silvaelm.com/appnote01.php

Thanks again. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I love this. I am going to start creating my own rss feeds and this is very helpful. It is also a great excuse to drink a beer. 2 birds with 1 stone. I love it! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I can tell I'm close but I'm experiencing the same problem of messages not accumulating in my RSS reader following an update of the .xml file.

Similar suggestions of this problem in posts...
June 19, 2009
April 26, 2009

I've looked through the post but cannot find a solution, anyone got any ideas?

Thanks in advance and huge respect to Mr Downes! :) [Comment] [Permalink]

Adding auto discovery

To allow browsers such as internet explorer to discover your feed when at your site (so the feed button lights up) you can add the following to the head section of the html file:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="The RSS Feed Title you want" href="http://www.the-rss-feed/rss_feed.xml" />

hope this helps. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I seem to have the same problem as the guy on Apr 26, 2009: My RSS feed in Outlook only shows the latest message - the messages do not accumulate like they do for other feeds. Pardon me if I failed to see the answer to this problem in the comments and thank you in advance for your assistance. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I seem to have the same problem as the guy on Apr 26, 2009: My RSS feed in Outlook only shows the latest message - the messages do not accumulate like they do for other feeds. Pardon me if I failed to see the answer to this problem in the comments and thank you in advance for your assistance. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad

I seem to have the same problem as the guy on Apr 26, 2009: My RSS feed in Outlook only shows the latest message - the messages do not accumulate like they do for other feeds. Pardon me if I failed to see the answer to this problem in the comments and thank you in advance for your assistance. [Comment] [Permalink]

Your Comment

You can preview your comment and continue editing until you are satisfied with it. Comment will not be posted on the until you have clicked 'Done'.



Enter email to receive replies:

Your comments always remain your property, but in posting them here you agree to license under the same terms as this site CC By-NC-SA. If your comment is offensive it will be deleted.

Automated Spam-checking is in effect. If you are a registered user you may submit links and other HTML. Anonymous users cannot post links and will have their contents screened - certain words are prohibited and comments will be analyzed to make sure they make sense.