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11 Sep, 2008

Create an RSS feed when a site doesn’t provide one

Posted by: Skylar In: technology

I rely quite heavily on my rss feeds for information in the civil engineering industry as well as my local news.  Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that quite a few government websites don’t see the benefit of RSS.  However, I’m happy to inform you that RSS feeds can be created for us anyways.  A website called Dapper allows you to select sites and help it find links on the site to develop a makeshift rss feed.  I had to use this for my subscription to the News on the City of Waterloo website, so let’s walk through what I did.

1. Copy the website url.

In this case, I wanted regular updates from the City of Waterloo, located here: http://www.city.waterloo.on.ca/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=78

2. Go to dapper.net and select “Create a New Dapp”:

3. Enter the url and select the option “RSS Feed”:

4. Click the “Add to basket” link at the top:

The site will show a prompt warning you that only one website has been selected, but this is ok since all we want is a single rss feed for one page, not a dynamic search dapp.  For more  info on the more dynamic uses for this website, check out this tutorial.

After hitting the “Next Step” button, Dapper will analyze the page for you.

5. Add the title link.

At this point you should be at a page where a little orange box surrounds a link as you hover over it.  Now is the time when you click a link that you want to use as an example feed item in your RSS feed.  I clicked on “Hydrant Testing”, since it has a descriptive name for my rss feed, as well as a link to its respective article.

When you click on the link, dapper selects similar items from the page and highlights them for you.  In this case, Dapper picked out all the titles seamlessly:

6.  Add text and date (if applicable):

Note that when you are typing in a name for the field you added, there are boxes to check off content and date as well as the title.  If these two items are present on the page, you can add them just like you did with the title/link to the item, but select the option to use it as description/date.  Once I added these two fields, my RSS feed looked like this:

7. Save the feed:

Note that saving the feed requires you to set up a (free) account with Dapper.  The screen that pops up makes this relatively easy.  It will then give you a link to your RSS feed to add to any RSS Aggregator you please.

Let me know how it works out for you in the comments.

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