RSS Re-engineering

I’ve gotten three queries in the last couple months about providing an RSS feed for Locus Online, to which I’ve replied, I’ll get around to it when I can. Actually, the fundamental issue is that I still maintain the html pages of the site manually; everything is edited in Wordpad. (Though listings of books and magazines on various Monitor pages are generated out of several custom-built Access databases.) There’s no blog engine underlying the homepage, even though the homepage does sorta look like a blog, with the central pane in reverse chronological order. (I’m sure everyone is grateful that I’ve made no substantial, or hardly even trivial, changes to the layout of the homepage in nearly a year now.)

I suppose it’s possible to manually create and maintain a text file full of xml tags for an RSS feed, but that would be rather absurd, and more work besides. Instead, I used a spare couple hours today (when I should have been doing other things, of course) exploring the various options for recasting the homepage as a blog, using Blogger, perhaps, or investing in something more full-featured, like Movable Type. (Blogger and other such programs provide site feeds automatically, if you turn them on; here’s a Views from Medina Road feed.) The plan is to make the transition invisible to the user, so the homepage layout won’t appear any different at all–but there’ll be an RSS feed for the main content in the center pane, and perhaps one for the Blinks column too. The transition would result in less manual work for me both in editing text files in Wordpad, and in FTP’ing files up and echoing them back down among however many computers I’m using in a typical week.

One advantage to a blog-engine homepage would be that multiple users could easily post to it. At the Locus Board meeting in Boston the notion of creating such a capability was floated, for the purpose of allowing office staff in Oakland to post breaking news items more quickly than could be done if they had to coordinate with me during the workday.

So, it’s in work, though I can’t promise when the transition will take place, or exactly how. I might get to it within the week; maybe over the holidays; maybe not for longer.

Comments are closed.