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Keepin' up on what's happening in the CF world - Part 3: Leveraging the RSS Feeds

Note: This blog post is from 2006. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
In my two previous entries, I've been discussing how someone interested in keeping up with the news of the CF world can leverage the two popular Adobe-community blog aggregators. The last focused on browsing them, and this will focus on using their available RSS feeds.

Even if you don't know anything more about RSS than how to spell it, follow along. I'll share something that can help you leverage it from Email, to get your daily (or even hourly) dose of CF news delivered to your inbox. Finally, in the next and final part, I'll point out a couple ways to save you even that bother, with folks who have so kindly gathered up the latest news of the week.

The previous two entries were on the aggregators and browsing them.

While going to the sites to browse the latest news is one way to keep up, it's certainly not the most efficient. New entries are constantly being added, and all you need to do is go away for a few hours and there are several new entries. And what if you're gone for days?

Getting the RSS Feeds Instead

A still better solution to that problem is to get the posts delivered to you as they are discovered (added by the bloggers whose blogs are being aggregated). This is possible by using what's called the RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). You don't need to understand much about them to take advantage of them. Indeed, I won't get into any detail here as others have covered the topic well.

Just know that it's an XML stream of data that's updates whenever a new entry is made, and some program can be set on your computer to watch that stream and take note of any such updates. RSS feeds are offered on both many blogs, and in fact it's the RSS feeds that these aggregators watch. Well, the aggregators themselves also offer RSS feeds of all the data they aggregate.

Recall in the first entry of this series, I shared with you the two URLs that you could use to keep en eye on the CFML-related entries that the aggregators detected.

Well, the corresponding URLs for the RSS feeds watching those entries at the two aggregators are, respectively: http://www.fullasagoog.com/xml/ColdFusionMX.xml

http://weblogs.macromedia.com/mxna/xml/rss.cfm?query=byCategory&languages=1&categoryId=1 If you're familiar with what to do with those URLs, take them and run with them. Otherwise, I'll explain in a moment how you can take advantage of them, even to get notified by email of the changes detected in the feeds.

Before that, though, let me point out that the MXNA feed URL can be generated for different characteristics, including particular languages (I've given the English one above) and even to watch the feed for a particular string. Visit the MXNA site to generate your own desired RSS feed URL.

Further, note that MXNA also offers a mechanism called "smart categories", which tries to be even more discerning about what gets delivered as related to a given category. The CFML feed for that would be: http://weblogs.macromedia.com/mxna/xml/rss.cfm?query=bySmartCategory&languages=1&smartCategoryId=1&smartCategoryKey=D0382F3A-9D2B-69E8-C7BC317066FA1CC2

I know how to spell RSS, but that's about it. I prefer Email

As helpful as an RSS feed is for those familiar with using RSS readers (or using email programs that know how to process them such as Firebird and Outlook 2007), what about those who don't use any of those yet? You can still get your constant drip of CFML goodness without having to visit the page every day or hour, and without having an RSS reader or email program that knows how to process such feeds.

On another blog of mine, I wrote about a couple of free services (Squeet, Feedblitz) that allow you to give them an RSS feed and they'll email you when new entries are posted to the feed. You can even control whether it's immediate or only a daily digest. Nifty. Learn more about that at my tipicalcharlie.com site (for generic, non-CF tips):

http://www.tipicalcharlie.com/blog_email_notification_by_squeet.htm ((Update: tipicalcharlie domain is no more, but page recovered using Archive.org.))

(Update: Sadly, squeet (a tool to send RSS feeds by email) is no more. But there are other alternatives, that I track in a category of my CF411 site: http://www.cf411.com/rss_email.)

And finally, for those who just can't keep up with a constant or even daily flow of the latest and greatest news, in my next entry I'll point out a couple of great resources that instead give you the news on a weekly basis.

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