Saturday, July 10, 2004

i am research man!

i've been spending some late nights, recently, trying to find some useful information and tools with regards to RSS and related technologies...

so one of the problems i've encountered with RSS is finding a feed for a particular site, so imagine my excitement when i found an online service that performs RSS Discovery when given a url... very cool in theory, unfortunately it doesn't seem to find the feeds for sites even when i can...

a worse problem one faces is when there is no feed for a particular site... does that mean we give up? heck no, it means we need to find a way to make an RSS feed for a site that doesn't have one - it's called 'scraping'... MyRSS.com has an automated service for generating feeds for sites but so far the one i tried hasn't been very successful, probably because it's completely automated - i could pay to have the scraping hand-optimized, which should definitely improve the situation, but i haven't given up on finding a free solution yet... ScrapedFeeds.com seems to be that solution, though i haven't tried it yet - but it is a manual operation and it's free (though the guy behind the operation could definitely use some donations)...

in the process of looking for feed scraping services i found RSSgenr8 which generates an RSS feed for a user specified site if that site contains suitable tags for picking out individual items... it's not much of a help so far as scraping arbitrary sites is concerned, but it should allow one to create an RSS feed for their own web pages since one generally has some degree of control over the tag content of your own page...

no discussion of RSS would be complete without talking about RSS readers/aggregators... i've tried some applications for reading feeds but ultimately was unimpressed... then it occurred to me to look for online aggregator services and i found Bloglines.com (and a few others but i liked this one best)... Bloglines has a lot of nice features like the ability to save news item clippings or the ability to do RSS discovery, it even does free blog hosting (though i think i'll stick with blogger.com)... the best part is that i can read my subscriptions from any computer, not just one where i have a reader installed... the benefit of running an RSS aggregator locally is that i could use it to read feeds that i scrape myself (using something like this) but for me that just doesn't beat the convenience of web based aggregator services...

3 comments:

elgore said...

I use the sage sidebar for firefox as my rss reader, i use firefox a lot so... :P

kurt wismer said...

unfortunately sage doesn't work with the full mozilla suite... it only works with the stand alone firefox browser...

and again, who wants to install rss software on every computer they use?

elgore said...

okay you are right, but in my case I only work on this one so sage is still the best solution for me.
Otherfise I would use that web-based stuff too.