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6/3/2013

Configuring RSS Feeds

This section details how to set up the RSS feeds and feed groups. Setup is available to Level 10 administrators and is site specific. This section also explains how administrators have the ability to add, edit, and delete feeds and feed items from Setup > RSS. Either the generic RSS template can be used or the generic mrss template for Media RSS can be used. The mrss template allows media files to be added to the feed item.

While feeds can be set with a plethora of extensions, they are generally XML-type files. An RSS feed is a single XML document that follows the RSS format and is hosted alongside other website resource files. RSS items are the news and events items that are added to an RSS feed.

Within OU Campus, RSS feeds are created by a Level 10 administrator and then assigned to a directory using access settings. If applied to a directory, created pages will inherit the access settings for RSS. An RSS feed can also be configured to be built into a template control file (TCF) and the template can be chosen as a new page. New pages are then created within the designated directory using a news template, which is setup to look for the RSS feed and often includes fields to prepopulate the item’s details. It is possible for a page to be designated as an item for a particular feed after is has been created by a Level 10 administrator. It is also possible to have a variable in the template that allows an RSS feed to be selected for the page on page creation. The item details need to then be manually added.

Aggregate feeds can also be created. The creation of the feed is the same as that of an individual feed, described below, but instead of items being assigned to it, the individual feeds are assigned to it, and their items appear in it. An aggregate feed is updated when a member feed is republished.

RSS feeds can make use of publishing to different targets. When feeds and aggregate feeds are rebuilt, they are rebuilt onto production and targets alike. When Multi-Target Publish is configured and in use, a publish target can be selected to rebuild a feed to, which overrides rebuilding the feed to the default production server.

When pages are scheduled to publish or expire, RSS feeds assigned to that page are rebuilt.

Once feeds are configured, users can add, edit, import, rebuild, and delete feed items from Content > Pages for pages they have access to. For more information, see Using RSS.

Overview

The setup for RSS feeds and feed groups is found under Setup > RSS. This shows the RSS Feeds and Groups screen. There are two sections: Groups and Feeds. Feeds must be set up prior to being assigned to an aggregate group.

RSS

 

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Creating a New RSS Feed

To create a new RSS feed, navigate to Setup > RSS.

  1. Begin by clicking on the New Feed button.
    New Feed Button

    New Feed
  2. Configure the File Properties for the feed, Path and Template:

    Enter the Path. The Path field determines where the RSS XML file will be created and feed items stored. It must be absolute to the root (e.g., /rss/newfeed.xml). The directories within the path must be configured for the feed to be created, but the file will be created by the addition of a feed item. RSS feed paths are not modifiable after creation. Take note of the file structure before creating the feed.

    Choose a Feed Template. The Template drop-down provides a choice of pre-defined XML structures to use. Provided are /generic-2_0.xml or /generic-mrss-2_0.xml type templates. The XML template for media is the mrss template. It should be used when adding media files (images and video) to the feed items. If the generic non-media template is used and users add media content to the feed, it will not be published. Please contact support for assistance if there are not any templates listed in the drop-down.

  3. Configure the Feed Properties.

    Title: Provide a title for the feed. This will be visible to subscribers.
    Title Field for RSS Feed

    Description: Give the feed a description, which subscribers will be able to see.
    Description Field for RSS Feed

    Link: The Link field should contain an absolute URL to the website (e.g.: http://www.omniupdate.com). Include the link to which the Path defined above will be appended. This is often the HTTP root.
    Link Field for RSS Feed

    Publication Date: The Publication Date is auto-populated with a variable that provides the date the page is published. It can also be manually entered here, but it is recommended that it be left set to [auto] so that the OU Campus system can automatically fill it in with the feed's publish date. If manually entered, the format for this field must conform with RFC 822 (e.g.: Sat, 07 Sep 2012 02:00:00 GMT). Please see the Best Practices heading on this page for more information.
    Blank field for RSS publication date

    Item Count: Define the number of items to be displayed by the feed. For RSS feeds, the item count can be anywhere between 1–9,999. Once the number of items in an RSS feed reaches this number any older RSS items are removed from the feed.
    Fall Off Count for RSS Feed Items

  4. Click Create.

    An example of a completed feed looks similar to this:
    Feed Example

After creating the feed, rebuild it initially to publish the file.

After creating a feed, assign the feed to a directory using the access settings or include a variable in the page template creating the page and item. If a feed is assigned to a directory, then any page created in that directory are assigned to the feed and the item details configured will be included with the feed. If part of the elements passed in the template.

A page template can be configured to not only activate the page to also have an item associated, but to prepopulate the item details during the page creation process. If a template is used that does not have RSS items configured to be created automatically, this will have to be done manually for that page after the fact.

 

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Apply an RSS Feed to a Page or Directory

Once the RSS feed is created, the feed can be associated with a page in two ways. The Level 10 administrator can either assign RSS feed access to a page or a directory or it can be built into a template. A user selecting the template during new page creation will be able to select the feed from a drop-down and then be able to add an RSS item to the page.

1. Click the Access icon for the document or directory in the system. This displays the Access Settings panel.

Access Button

2. Select an RSS Feed. The available options will be the RSS feeds that were previously added. Applying a feed allows items to be added to a feed and the feed item linked to the page.

Access

3. Click Save. Click the light bulb or Check Out icon and the RSS Feed icon is now shown as an available page action.

RSS Button

 

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Editing Feed Items

Once feeds are setup and access provided to a page, users have to ability to import external feed items, and add, edit, rebuild, and delete feed items from the page listing view (Content > Pages). Feed items can also be viewed, edited, or deleted by an administrator via Setup > RSS > Items icon > Edit for the item.

Editing an RSS Feed Item from Setup

The fields are as follows:

Description: The Description field provides an area to add a bit of descriptive text about the feed item.

Link: The Link field is auto-populated with a link to the absolute URL of the published page that the RSS feed item links to.

Author: The Author field is auto-populated with the name and email address of the content author.

Publication Date: The Publication Date is auto-populated with a variable that provides the date the page is published. It can also be manually entered here, but it is recommended that it be left set to [auto] so that the OU Campus system can automatically fill it in with the feed's publication  date. If manually entered, the format for this field must conform with RFC 822 (e.g.: Sat, 07 Sep 2012 02:00:00 GMT). Please see the Best Practices heading on this page for more information.

Media Content: New media items can be added, and existing media items can be edited or deleted. For more information:

Adding Media Content

Extra XML: Use the Extra XML field to define additional XML nodes to be included in this article's RSS information. XML information should be entered in the form of <node>data</node>.

4. Click Update.

5. Click the Rebuild icon to rebuild the RSS feed. This republishes the XML file to the production server.

For more information about editing and deleting items, please see:

Using RSS

Feed Icons Reference

RSS Feeds

  • The Edit button permits editing the feed itself.
  • The Items button displays the list of items in any particular feed. Feed items can be edited from this screen.
  • The Rebuild button republishes the feed. This writes the XML file to the production server.
  • The Delete button deletes the feed.

 

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Creating an RSS Aggregate Feed

After creating RSS feeds, it is possible to aggregate them into a group. This combines several feeds into one single RSS XML file. Subscribers can then subscribe to the individual feeds or the aggregate feed if interested in all topics within that general category. Items that appear in a feed will also appear in the group to which their feed is assigned.

Here is an example of using RSS groups to aggregate feeds. The RSS group is a feed called Athletics. The individual feeds called Football, Soccer, and Baseball are also members of the RSS group, Athletics. These three feeds can each be viewed individually, or the Athletics aggregate feed could be subscribed to.


  1. Navigate to Setup >RSS and click the New Group button.

    new group button

  2. Identify the Path from the root of the site to where the XML file for the feed should be created. The folders leading to the file must already exist, but the file does not have to exist. Generally this is an XML file.

    Path for Aggregate RSS Feed
  3. Select the RSS feed Template. Choose between a generic template and a media template.

    Template Selection for RSS Feed
  4. Enter a Title for the feed. This is shown in the feed readers.
    Titling an RSS Feed
  5. Enter a Description of the feed.
    Description for RSS Feed
  6. Enter the HTTP root in the Link field.
    Link Field for RSS Feed
  7. Leave the Publication Date blank.
    Blank field for RSS publication date
  8. Enter the number of items that will be displayed in feed readers before they start to "fall off" the feed. While they will still exist in the file, they will no longer be part of the public feed. This can be as high as 9,999.
    Fall Off Count for RSS Feed Items
  9. Click Create.
    File and Feed Properties for RSS Feed

After the aggregate feed has been created, members can be added. These members are the individual feeds that have already been created.

To Add Feeds to an Aggregate

  1. Click on the Members icon.
  2. Select the feeds from the Available Feeds that should be added. Use the CTRL (on Windows) or CMD (on Mac) key to select multiple feeds.
  3. Click on the green plus sign to add the users to the Selected Feeds list.
  4. Click on Save when done.

In addition to adding feeds as described, it is possible to:

  • Add all feeds in the Available Feeds list to the Selected Feeds list using: Icon to add all available feeds.
  • Delete selected feeds from the Selected Feeds list using: Icon to Delete Select Feeds.
  • Delete all feeds from the Selected Feeds list using: Icon to Delete All Feeds.

 

 

Group Feed Icons Reference

  • The Edit button permits editing the feed itself.
  • The Members icon permits editing of the feed group by adding or removing individual feeds.
  • The Rebuild button republishes the feed. This writes the XML file to the production server.
  • The Delete button deletes the feed.

 

Modifying an Aggregate Feed

After creating an aggregate feed, additional options exist, including modifying the feed, adding or deleting members, rebuilding the feed, and deleting the feed.

RSS feeds can be edited at any time by clicking on the hyperlinked name of the feed or the Edit icon. Remember to commit all changes using the Update button.

Members of the feed can be added or deleted using the Members icon.

Rebuild the feed using the Rebuild icon. At this point a different publish target can be chosen, if Multi-Target Publish in use for the site. Select a Publish Target and click the Publish button.

 Publish RSS Feed Group

If a feed needs to be deleted, use the trash can icon or Delete button from the feed list.

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Best Practices

Publication Date

It is recommended to leave the Publication Date field for an RSS item set to [auto]. The Publication Date refers to the date of the RSS feed item, not the date of an event. The RSS specification requires a specific date format in conformance with RFC 822. Examples of a valid format include:

  • Sat, 07 Sep 2012 02:00:00 GMT
  • Mon, 23 Jan 2012 17:02:09 -800
  • Mon, 06 Sep 2012 16:45:00 +0000
  • Wed, 04 Feb 2012 08:00:00 EST

If the incorrect date/time format is entered into the Publication Date field, the RSS feed will fail validation. An invalid dat eformat can also cause errors when parsing a feed.

Publishing the Initial Feed

After creating a new RSS feed, it should be "rebuilt" in order to publish it out initially.

RSS URL

Configure the RSS URL so that it is usable for visitors who may want to subscribe to the RSS feed. Generally this can be accomplished by putting the RSS directory at the root of the site.

RSS Item Limit

Limit the number of RSS items to be displayed to limit the amount of time it takes for the feed to load.

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