REVIEW - Content Syndication with RSS


Content Syndication with RSS


Ben Hammersley



O'Reilly (2003)




Christopher Hill


October 2003



'The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from'. Sadly this old chestnut does apply to content syndication on the Internet. Hammersley reviews the four current 'standards' - RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0, RSS 0.92 and RSS 2.0 (this would appear to be the correct chronological order and a sign of the factions with the content syndication arena).

The heritage of each 'standard' is explained and the key differences from its predecessor are highlighted. There is a useful section on how to publish your feed, covering links in the HTML pages and submission to aggregators.

There is a chapter on consuming feeds and displaying them on your own web site and another chapter assessing the qualities of some RSS readers.

Hammersley writes in a clear style that readers of UK broadsheet newspapers would recognise. The programming examples are given in Perl, but I wonder if this was the best language for the task. Most examples are short routines to help parse RSS or form RSS from other sources, but one example runs to 13 pages of Perl program - a poor use of page space.

There are a number of minor editorial errors - a heading not agreeing with the body of chapter and a couple of references to a non-existent appendix of country codes. There is a thorough index and four pages of web site references. This book is a useful introduction to the subject, but probably not one you will keep to hand for long.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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