well, I knew it existed before but I realised how *I* could use it just this afternoon.
I have a subscription section to my education site and I thought that I could have an RSS feed to show my users which materials have just been added. So I made a xml document, called it new.rss and was off and running in ten minutes.
As I am clueless when it comes to php, asp and so on, all I have done is to use the WebmasterWorld rss doc as a template and hand edited in a text editor. Is that cheating?
Are these feeds only really meant for dynamic sites and is hand writing them just defeating the whole point?
Will be adding probably 3-5 new materials a week to the doc. Am I overkilling? Just happy to have lost my RSS virginity to be honest...
Allow me to disagree, freeflight2. :) Crazy? Probably not. I hand-code a couple of RSS feeds for small sites which have no database backend. It's not much harder than editing HTML, it does the job, and introducing a whole CMS just to produce a simple RSS feed is overkill.
One important thing to note is that RSS is XML, and XML is much stricter than HTML in terms of well-formedness. To avoid problems especially with hand-rolled feeds, you must check your work with an RSS feed validator [feedvalidator.org] - a malformed feed can cause a fatal error. Personally I prefer using RSS 2.0 over the rather ancient Netscape RSS 0.91 used in the WebmasterWorld feed (although Netscape RSS 0.91 has its advantages too).
I downloaded a RSS reader and mine came through looking fine and I did validate it too. I will only infrequently be adding to it..it's more of a service to my paying customers than anything else. And it's good for me to get into this new technology too - even if in a very non-standard way.