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Content Syndication with RSS [Paperback]

Ben Hammersley
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 3 2003 0596003838 978-0596003838 1

RSS is sprouting all over the Web, connecting weblogs and providing news feeds. Originally developed by Netscape in 1999, RSS (which can stand for RDF Site Summary, Rich Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication) is an XML-based format that allows web developers to describe and syndicate web site content. Using RSS files allows developers to create a data feed that supplies headlines, links, and article summaries from a web site. Other sites can then incorporate them into their pages automatically. Although RSS is in widespread use, people struggle with its confusing and sometimes conflicting documentation and versions. Content Syndication with RSS is the first book to provide a comprehensive reference to the specifications and the tools that make syndication possible.Content Syndication with RSS offers webloggers, developers, and the programmers who support them a thorough explanation of syndication in general and RSS in particular. Written for web developers who want to offer XML-based feeds of their content, as well as developers who want to use the content that other people are syndicating, the book explores and explains metadata interpretation, different forms of content syndication, and the increasing use of web services in this field.This concise volume begins with an introduction to content syndication on the Internet: its purpose, limitations, and traditions, and answers the question of why would you consider "giving your content away" like this? Next, the book delves into the architecture of content syndication with an overview of the entire system, from content author to end user on another site. You'll follow the flow of data: content, referral data, publish-and-subscribe calls, with a detailed look at the protocols and standards possible at each step. Topics covered in the book include:

  • Creating XML syndication feeds with RSS 0.9x and 2.0
  • Beyond headlines: creating richer feeds with RSS 1.0 and RDF metadata
  • Using feeds to enrich a site or find information
  • Publish and subscribe: intelligent updating
  • News aggregators, such as Meerkat, Syndic8, and Newsisfree, and their web services
  • Alternative industry-centric standards
If you're interested in producing your own RSS feed, this step-by-step guide to implementation is the book you'll want in hand.

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About the Author

Ben Hammersley is an English emigre, living in Sweden, with his wife, three greyhounds, a few hundred deer, and a two-way satellite connection. For a day job, he writes for the British national press, appearing in The Times, The Guardian, and The Observer, but in his free time, he blogs excessively at www.benhammersley.com and runs the Lazyweb.org ideas site. As a member of the RSS 1.0 Working Group, he survived the Great Fork Summer, and as a journalist he has been accosted by the secret police of two countries. To this day, he doesn't know which was worse.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
I must underscore the reason why I capitalized the word "PRINTED" in the title of this review. This is indeed the best book about the topic of RSS (RDF Site Summary), which has become increasingly more important since blogs jumped out of tech obscurity to become a mainstream form of web-enabled information dissemination. However, nowadays the topic is too dynamic (there's too much happening these days in the field of RSS) to make Hammersley's book a comprehensive and current enough resource for all matters and purposes.
As a general introductory reading, it's the best book out there. But once you get your feet deep enough in the RSS waters, you need to go online and search for the current APIs, Web Services, News Aggregators and RSS/Blog Directories, which is the area where the book will fall behind the fast growth of this area. Overall, very well structured, even with an appendix on the XML you need to know, in order to be able to deal with RSS.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Covers all the bases in great depth July 7 2003
Ben Hammersley does a great job introducing the history of RSS and explaining all the aspects of using RSS for syndication producers and consumers. The book's technical descriptions are very clear, aided by the author's excellent use of diagrams to illustrate the organization of RSS data elements.
Another reviewer complained that Chapter 4's title including "RSS 2.0", while not discussing RSS 2.0 in the chapter's text. This was apparently an honest mistake that has no effect whatsoever on the book's presentation, as Chapter 8 is entirely devoted to RSS 2.0. I note that the Chapter 4 title is corrected in the Safari online edition of the book -- O'Reilly is really on top of updates!
The author includes an excellent appendix on XML basics; you can give this book to any web developer and get them up to speed on RSS without first making them XML experts.
Given the complexity of the topic, this is a top-notch book, easily worth five stars.
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By Maq
This book really is a must-have (or must-read-once) for anyone interested in RSS syndication technology.
It contains a lot of information on creating RSS feeds and related scripts. Most of the non-RSS code is in Perl, so if you don't use Perl, some of the book might not be handy.
I was disappointed that the book didn't cover much of the user's end of syndication... things like scraping and RSS readers themselves, but that's obviously another book.
This is a really nice title if you're interested in the techie side of RSS, but if you're an end user, there won't be too much here for you aside from the bits of history.
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