Web feeds have changed the way I visit websites. I just subscribe to my favorite places and watch new contents roll into my desktop aggregator (NetNewsWire). Feeds have not only saved me time, but also kept me on top of things. Why do I need TV when I can get the latest news from CNN delivered right to my computer? I no longer need to check Zeldman.com every morning to be disappointed that he only writes once in a while. Zeldman is still “da man” though.
Even though I offer a content syndication feed (RSS 2.0) on this site, I never have to write a code for it. WordPress does all the magic for me, and I am grateful for that. I probably won’t ever have to hand rolled a feed, but it is still helpful to know how to produce one. I picked up Ben Hammersley’s book, and it is all that I need to get myself familiar with the development process.
Coming straight from O’Reilly’s press, Developing Feeds with RSS and Atom is guaranteed to get readers roll up their sleeves and start rolling their feeds with its slim in volume, clear in explanation, and concise in coding approach. Whether developers need to roll out an Atom, RSS 1.0, or RSS 2.0, they can find the solutions in this book. Feeds can be created with PHP, Perl using XML::RSS, or Ruby. Hammersley offers step-by-step guides for all three. Besides the coding, the most important lesson from this book is the understanding of the differences between various RSS’s and Atom. Readers need to know the standards, and how they work in order to parse them. While feeds are mostly found in blogs, chapter 10 (“Unconventional Feeds”) shows what feeds can do beyond the blog community, such as Amazon Wishlist to RSS, Google to RSS with SOAP, the W3C Validator to RSS and Podcast Weather Forecasts.
We have a fantastic web developer in-house who I turn to all the time when I need PHP help, but if my boss ask me to create an RSS feed for no reason, I won’t pull my hair out. I just snatch the feed from WordPress, and modify it to suit our need. Why not create it from scratch? Why should I? Developing Feeds with RSS and Atom already gave me what I need to know. Since I already know what I am doing, modifying codes are faster for me than starting from scratch. It’s all about speed and precision, baby.