Creating a feed for websites that do not support RSS

April 12, 2010

Serious Stuff, Steve

Rss_logo

I’m not sure if anyone else has shared my frustration at having come across a really useful or interesting website and then discovered there is no RSS facility to subscribe to subsequent updates. Clearly the author/owner of the website believes that their readers will bookmark the site and keep popping back to see if there are any changes.  Not very realistic when there are several billion websites out there.

There’s also the perennial issue of the (mainly public sector) websites that fail to support RSS, with an antiquated content management system (CMS) often cited as the problem.  Mash the state (http://www.mashthestate.org.uk/) clearly had some good intentions in embarrassing local councils into providing an RSS feed on their website, but with only 32% of councils with this facility at the last count – well short of their target of getting all council websites to support RSS – they may well have given up on this crusade (indeed the website hasn’t been updated since 2009)

Anyway, there is a solution (sort of) which I had completely forgotten about until recently when I was reconfiguring some feeds in my Google Reader. This lets you create a web feed for websites that do not have an RSS facility. It’s a bit coarse in that you can only monitor changes to a whole webpage (rather than – say – just monitoring news updates), but better than nothing.

To make a custom Google Reader feed, all you need to do is cut and paste the URL (the web address) of the page you want to monitor into the box you get when you click on the ‘Add a subscription’ button at the top left of the Google Reader page.

I’ve shown below the screen shots for the feed I’ve juts created for my local council Uttlesford  – not, I might add because I think they’ve got anything interesting to say, but you never know, they might read this and respond by providing a real RSS feed on their website. I can live in hope!

Google_reader_create_feed_1
Google_reader_create_feed_2


 

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2 Responses to “Creating a feed for websites that do not support RSS”

  1. Andrew Beeken Says:

    Good stuff and fairly straightforward, but Yahoo Pipes can be much more powerful. I looked at a number of solutions for Lincoln Council’s RSS feeds (our CMS does not natively have RSS capabilities) and the auto generated ones were nowhere near as good as scraping the page content through pipes.

    Reply

  2. Stephen Dale Says:

    I keep meaning to go check out Yahoo Pipes. I’ve read the intro blurb but not got my hands dirty. Sounds as if it gets over the problem I noted with Google Reader in that it can only work for a whole page content. Note to self: go check it out!

    Reply

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