Integrating RSS and ATOM Feeds

For us, RSS is becoming the glue that ties many sites together. Despite its shaky start and competing standards, RSS is a solid means to communicate certain information between different sites.

One reason you might want to import RSS feeds from another site into your own is to create your own RSS aggregator site like a "Planet" (a la http: //planet.wordpress. org/) or like Google Reader. RSS is an easy way to keep tabs on multiple sites in an easy-to-digest location. Make sure you have permission to republish the content; consult a lawyer if you have questions. Also, make sure you are courteous and cache the feeds. Your web site should not adversely affect the performance of another.

If the originating content is your content, or content you have permission to repurpose, building a feed aggregator is fine. Typically, companies do this by deciding to build a ''planet'' of all of their employee blogs, no matter where or how they are hosted. You might also do this if you have a few quasi-independent people who all want to share content to build the sense of community akin to early points about getting noticed. Finally, you could do this if you have more than one blog and periodically want to post a summary of ''what's going on over in XYZ land.'' For example if you run a food site and a sports site. By the very nature of their core subject matters they do not cross-reference each other, but each could summarize the other from time to time to drive cross-readership.

The easiest way to consume an RSS or ATOM feeds from another site for republishing in your site is to use a plugin. The FeedWordPress plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feedwordpress/) by Charles Johnson is a simple and powerful plugin for consuming these feeds.

After installing and activating this plugin you will have a new set of administration dashboards to configure the syndicated sites. After entering a valid feed URL, you have options to configure scheduling of when the feed is re-visited, as well as, authors, posts and tag information. This plugin really simplifies the means to republish content from one site to another via RSS or ATOM feeds.

Finally, the SimplePie Core WordPress plugin is a PHP library that gives you a bit more control over feed processing and filtering, but without the simpler-to-use interface. If you want to extract content from an RSS feed and perform some cleanup, for example removing images or resorting items before publishing, then you can use SimplePie as a container for your PHP content processing scripts.

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