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I am helping a friend to bring a very large, completely static web site out of the stone age. One thing I'd like to add immediately is a RSS/ATOM feed.

He does not like working with any kind of CMS. He makes his pages using a Dream Weaver template, then uploads it and manually updates some pages to link to the new content. His site does very, very well in search engines, but he's not quite engaging new visitors who would probably put him in their reader.

Is there something I can install that allows him to easily / manually add new items to a feed? Perhaps something that if given a link could fetch a content excerpt?

Searching around yielded hundreds of things that might work, but many from 2000 or prior that have not been updated since. Language is not critical, but PHP/Python would be ideal.

I really need something self hosted.


The flow of this should be, webmaster makes a new static page, uploads it, links to it .. now some mention of that page should exist in the RSS feed. Ideally, the webmaster could just provide the link to the new page, and the title with a short excerpt would appear in the feed.


Perhaps even something that just scraped title / excerpt from comment tags, i.e. :

<p>The quick brown fox got p0wned by l33t kittens</p>

I don't need a full blown parser, just something that makes it easy for someone with minimal skills to maintain a feed on a completely static site.

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You don't really explain in what way the site is changing such that that would be necessary. – delete Jul 9 '10 at 10:03
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Dan Bricklin, creator of VisiCalc, has a free product called Software Garden ListGarden that generates RSS feeds manually:

alt text

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Absolutely perfect! Thanks! – Tim Post Aug 1 '10 at 16:24

I can't think of anything off the shelf, but you could be pretty easily script something like this in Ruby for example.

Nokogiri is a very popular XML and HTML parser that you should use to read the page given the link the webmaster provides. Then you could extract the excerpt text and title. You can read in your existing feed XML, add the new info, and write it back out.

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Before finding a definitive solution (I don't have it) you could always try and use Google for this.

E.g. Login to Google Reader, click the Add button, add your friend's website there, Google will tell you that it has no feed and ask if you want Google to watch the page and create one for you. Then look at the "feed URL" there (http://www.google.com/notificationservice/webchanges/webfeeds/LONGNUMBER) and have your friend embed it on his homepage, as his feed URL.

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It would not be too difficult to write a PHP/Python script that auto-generated the RSS feed. The process would be:

  • Search the filesystem for the newest files (e.g. take every file with .html extension, store in an array with the date, then order them by date).
  • Use an HTML parser to extract the information from those files (e.g. title tag, the first paragraph in a particular element).
  • Write the data to the RSS XML format.

You should be able to find a few scripts (like the HTML parser) to help you on your way. Otherwise, ask Stack Overflow for help :)

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Seeing as he's that into doing everything by hand, why not do them by hand too?...

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I think you've missed the point of the question. – Tim Post Jul 17 '10 at 21:33
Sorry about that. I added another answer below. At least I think I'm being on topic there. – intlect Jul 17 '10 at 23:47

There is a nice "Note in Reader" bookmarklet trick you can use to create custom RSS feeds

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