Note: This blog post is from 2008. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.Have you ever found (as a blogger or as a reader of a blog's feed) that sometimes it seems the feed just seems to stop working? It could be that it's become invalid. Here's a tip.
Bloggers: you really should validate your feed on every new submission. You never know when some special character you used (or copy/pasted from elsewhere) might make your feed invalid.
In this entry, I propose a couple of possible solutions, either that you may find or that you can easily add to your own blog.
Validating your feed. Does your blogging tool do it?
I imagine some blogging tools may even offer this as a feature. It's easy enough to validate one's feed with a tool like http://feedvalidator.org/. You can easily validate your own by adding your URL with http://feedvalidator.org/check.cgi?url=yoururl. (Technically, the value of yoururl should be URLEncoded.)
Validating it yourself on each new entry
If your blogging tool doesn't do that validation for you, here's another thought: you could easily do it yourself. Here's code I use to check the feed whenever a new entry is made. It looks at the validation result and sends me an email if it fails, which has saved my bacon a couple of times:
<cfif cfhttp.filecontent does not contain "congratulations">
<cfmail to="myemailaddress" from="myemailaddress" subject="Your Blog's RSS feed has failed" type="HTML">
For http://carehart.org/blog/client/rss.cfm?mode=full. Email sent to myemailaddress.
For http://carehart.org/blog/client/rss.cfm?mode=full passed.
Of course, you could just drop that code into your blogging code if you're comfortable doing that.
Using your blog tool's Ping feature
But if you don't want to edit your blogging code, you could do this just as easily with your blogging tool's ping feature, if it offers one. These are more typically used to provide one or more URLs which the blogging tool will call when you offer a new entry, such as to notify blog aggregators of your new entry (rather than waiting for them to come back to find your entry eventually).
You could use that same feature have it go to a URL on your own site that runs the code above. That's what I do.
Is there a service doing this already?
I suppose someone could set up a service to do this, letting you pass in the URL and email addresses. For now, I'm not in a position to do that on my own server for others. One would need to be careful not to let this be abused in any way. I also imagine it could get used by a lot of folks.
I kind of wonder why some free service hasn't yet been created to do this. Surely someone could find a way to monetize it. :-)
Anyone know of such a tool?
Anyway, there's the idea and the code above, if it may help.
PS: This is more than just for bloggers
BTW, this applies to more than just blogs. Anything where you add items that offer an RSS feed to read them, this would make sense, such as podcasts, news items, and more.
In fact, I've been meaning to write this entry for a long time, and was actually motivated when I came across some failing OPML for one of the CF blog aggregators today. I dropped a note to the owner, letting him know that someone had slipped in a bad character when they'd entered a new feed to him. I suggested he could benefit from this idea (as would others), and that I'd blog about it. There you have it.