How to set up an RSS feed for my old-fashioned site?
December 7, 2006 9:01 AM   Subscribe

How to set up an RSS feed for my old-fashioned site?

Please know that I only sort of know what I"m talking about in this post, so if my verbiage is off, don't hurt me.

Everyone is telling me that I need an RSS feed in order for my blog to keep up with readers and aggregators and whatnot. I wish I could just ignore the whole thing, especially considering the PITA that this is turning out to be.

I started my site in 2002--it was designed and edited via Dreamweaver, and my host is (the site is My boyfriend tried to help me get an RSS set up by getting me on Dreamweaver 3, which apparently has RSS capabilites, but the problem is my four years' worth of archives.

I can go without setting up a feed for my old stuff, but I still have no idea how to do it currentl. It probably doesn't help that my site is text-driven and has one long post a day as opposed to several smaller ones.

Is there any way to set up a feed for this puppy that's not going to cause tremendous amounts of time? Would it be best to just transfer the whole thing to a new platform like Moveable Type? And if so, how can that be done? I wish I could just throw some money at the problem and buy some magical program that takes care of this for me in a relatively simple way.

If you want to tell me not to worry about it, that not having an RSS feed isn't hurting me tremendously in the long run, then I'll listen to that as well.

Thanks for reading this damn-long post.
posted by clairezulkey to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
RSS is usually just about new content and updates. Why would your archives need an RSS feed? Are you making updates to your archives?
posted by Good Brain at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2006

The shortest path to a feed is probably a script that parses your recent entries and generates one from that, though this might be tricky with tag soup depending on how your HTML is structured. Ruby and Hpricot would be my first ports of call, though probably only after taking a close look at how Dreamweaver works.

Most of this is pretty orthogonal to migrating to a new platform; you want your entries in a computer-readable format with the right metadata etc, and from there you can generate RSS feeds or import into another system.

A link to your site and/or the files Dreamweaver works with would be useful.
posted by Freaky at 9:23 AM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: No, I'm not.
posted by clairezulkey at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2006

If you're OK without it being automated, I'd suggest you create a very basic file (eg title and maybe a summary), and edit it yourself each time you post something new.

This article gives you a good summary of what it needs to look like.
posted by cillit bang at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice thus far. Sorry, I forgot to include an actual link to my site. You can find it here
posted by clairezulkey at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2006

To address this:

"If you want to tell me not to worry about it, that not having an RSS feed isn't hurting me tremendously in the long run, then I'll listen to that as well."

If there's a site I like (heck, even a site I love), but it doesn't have an RSS feed, I really don't visit it. I'm probably in the minority on this, but my sense is that it's a growing minority.
posted by SomePerlGeek at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2006

You don't say what platform you're using, but I'm pretty sure that on any platform, there are dedicated RSS publishers. This would involve some duplication of effort—pasting your content into the RSS maker as well as Dreamweaver—but it wouldn't be too terribly burdensome. here's one for the Mac that apparently even works with Dreamweaver.

In the long run, you might find it worth your while to migrate to a regular blogging system, eg Wordpress. There's nothing too tricky about your page layout that you couldn't reproduce in a WP theme, and doing so would have various follow-on benefits, including automatic feed creation. I had a handmade website and eventually moved most of it into Movable Type, and have since moved almost all of it into Wordpress. (And who knows what tool I'll try next.)

I'm another one of those people for whom the feed list in my newsreader has almost replaced the bookmarks in my browser.
posted by adamrice at 11:37 AM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: "If there's a site I like (heck, even a site I love), but it doesn't have an RSS feed, I really don't visit it. I'm probably in the minority on this, but my sense is that it's a growing minority."

Do you mind if I ask why?

Thanks, Adam, I will look into that. I work on a PC incidentally.
posted by clairezulkey at 1:21 PM on December 7, 2006

"Do you mind if I ask why?"

I am the same way, and honestly, it's because I have enough more important things to spend my time on. Or more fun.

For me, there are a few things I do online.
I read content, and play games. The games I visit, the content I get in my rss reader. If it's not in my rss feeds, I will forget about it, and move on to games. It's much easier to visit one link in my browser for all the content I want to read, then to go through my bookmarks and check if each one has updated recently, read it, then go to the next.

See what I mean? The reader tells me the new content when it is there, otherwise, it doesn't waste my time. Hook yourself up with Google Reader and in a few days, you'll see ;)
posted by jesirose at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2006

"Do you mind if I ask why?"

...what jesirose said.
posted by SomePerlGeek at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: It honestly makes me wonder if it's just a sign to close up shop, if it's not worth it making this transition. But that's another can of worms.

Thanks all. I hope I can figure this out b/c it's painful to be told directly (by friends, not you guys whose advice I've solicited) that they don't read it b/c there's no RSS feed.
posted by clairezulkey at 2:02 PM on December 7, 2006

I could only recommend making the transition to actual blogging software that takes care of the RSS for you as a side effect. Blosxom, for instance, is very simple, and works with the idea of just uploading your entries to a directory. (I use Movable Type; lots of people like Wordpress; there are lots of choices.)

That said, getting any blogging software to do the right thing with your archives is likely to be a big pain. (As Good Brain notes, you don't have to worry about RSS with your archives, but if you want your future archives to be handled alongside your past archives, you'll want to import that data somehow.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 3:27 PM on December 7, 2006

Making the switch to a blogging system actually isn't that bad. If you have plain-text or HTML versions of all your writing, have access to a good text editor, and know the slightest bit about GREP (or have a friend who does), you can whip them into the Movable Type export format pretty easily. Many blogging systems can import this format. I would not be too put-off. I'm guessing that, even allowing for a little trial and error, you could get something workable in place in a few hours with relatively little swearing and hair-ripping. Ideally you'll have a friend on call who has set up the same blogging system you decide to go with.
posted by adamrice at 3:43 PM on December 7, 2006

Unless I've missed it, no one seems to have mentioned the idea of using another website which will "watch" your site, notice changes, and create an RSS feed for you, automatically. (Meaning you don't have to change anything at your end.)

Results may vary, particularly depending on the structure of your site/HTML/etc.

Personally, I've had really good results with Feed43 in the past, but it seems like they're a bit overloaded at the minute.

Some other sites that random Googling found (but I've never used) are: MySiteFeed, and FeedFire
(Although the latter one seems to be recommended from this site, which also mentions FeedYes, which I've had less-than-stellar results with.)

(These are free options that I'm familiar with; since you say you're willing to throw money at it, some of the "premium" services at these sites (like Feed43) may suit you pretty well.)
posted by insipidia at 4:12 PM on December 7, 2006

I don't follow blogs which don't have RSS feeds any more either.

As for why, it's like asking why I don't get up and walk over to the TV to change channels. The remote has been invented, it's too late to go back, although the exercise would probably do me good.

I say, get into a blogging system like Movable Type, blogger, whatever it may be, which has RSS built in. Still managing things via Dreamweaver in 2006 is kind of admirable in a way. Good for you. But, sooner or later you're going to have to get more organised, and it might as well be now.

I'm sure lots of us here would be happy to help with the transition. Email me if you like.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, Ambrose--I might. I'm going to dig in a bit more closer to Xmas when the man isnt' watching over my shoulder at work.

Thanks once again everyone.
posted by clairezulkey at 8:44 AM on December 8, 2006

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