It’s Not Stealing — It’s Syndicating

There are a number of tools out there that allow you to easily take someone’s RSS feed and plug it in to your web page. The little-known secret is that at least one of them requires no programming knowledge beyond basic HTML and — for the adventurous — a bit of CSS.
Feed2JS, created and maintained by some clever people at the Maricopa Community Colleges, is a free service that takes an RSS feed you specify, wraps it in some CSS, and delivers it through a one-line JavaScript tag in your HTML document. Wait, it’s really not even that complicated.
For an example of how this handy application works, go to my library’s home page. Notice the headlines under the heading “The Ginn Weblog.” Those headlines are drawn dynamically from the Ginn Library’s weblog, the GinnBlog. Whenever we publish something new to the blog, the newest article appears at the top of the list on the library home page, and the oldest one goes away. Automatically. The code to it, provided through a web form at the Feed2JS site where you simply paste in the URL of the RSS feed, is simple:

<script language="JavaScript" src="
ginnblog%2Fmt%2Findex.rdf&num=3&date=n" type="text/javascript">

(I also had to play a little bit with a CSS style sheet to make the headlines fit into the space on the library home page and to match the font, size, and color of type on the page -- but that was just as easy as adding a few elements to my site's style sheet using the directions kindly provided.
Maricopa is feeling the pain of lots of people using this script, downloading reformatted feeds from their site. If you plan to use it heavily, they'd appreciate it if you downloaded and installed the PHP scripts to your own server...
Feed2JS is a very easy way to take advantage of RSS feeds -- news, weather, your library's blog, you name it.
Let me know if you're using this tool on your library's site by leaving a comment with your page's URL.

3 thoughts on “It’s Not Stealing — It’s Syndicating”

  1. Library Blogs in Courseware

    Stephen Bell makes a great point in his 2005 ALA poster presentation, “If Youæ± e Going To Blog, Blog It To Courseware”: Do you already have a library weblog (blog) or are you considering using one to create awareness about library…

  2. Feed2JS and Spam

    Feed2JS is a great tool for reusing RSS feeds on web pages. (See my May 2005 post, It’s Not Stealing, It’s Syndicating, for an overview. However — there’s always a ‘however,’ isn’t there — there is a fixable problem. If…

  3. JavaScript RSS Box Viewer

    I stumbled across yet another RSS embedding tool, the prosaically named JavaScript RSS Box Viewer. (See the “related posts” section below for my descriptions of several other similar tools.) RSS Box Viewer gives you a great deal of control over…

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