1. When computing, whatever happens, behave as though you meant it to happen. - Murphy's Laws of Computing

Writing An RSS Feed

Friday 9th September 2005

Categories: Guides, Internet, Code

Introduction

Before we begin, if you are not very sure about what an RSS feed really is, you should read up on RSS - you need to know about RSS from a user's perspective before you start writing it!

As you are probably aware, using feeds is increasingly popular on the internet. Almost any site could have a use for a feed, from the latest news to new articles. When we look at the benefits having a feed has, using a feed becomes very attractive. This article will explain how to create an RSS feed, and put it on your website.

History

First of all, we need to decide on the type of feed we are going to use. We have a number of choices here. Over the years, there have been a number of RSS versions. If you don't care about the history, and just want to learn how to create a feed, feel free to skip ahead to the next section. Here they are in a nice list:

As you can see, that is a lot of versions, not to mention the Atom feeds. There are two main lines of RSS - RSS 0.9x with RSS 2.0, and RSS 1.0. The various versions of RSS 0.9x and RSS 2.0 are largely, although not completely, compatible.

Netscape created the first RSS version, 0.90, followed by 0.91. Userland then took over, and created its own version of 0.91. It continued with RSS 0.92, 0.93 and 0.94, although 0.93 and 0.94 were not intended for actual use. This was followed by RSS 2.0. 2.0 was updated, and became 2.01,followed by another update, again called RSS 2.01. Although all three versions were slightly different from each other, there is no way for feed readers to tell the difference between any of them - they all identify themselves simply as RSS 2.0.

The RSS1.0 line is somewhat simpler. It is separate and incompatible with the other versions of RSS since it follows the RDF standards. This makes it somewhat more complicated to write.