Archive for XSL

Azeem Ahmad – Final Project Proposal (Detailed)

Project Outline –

Many internet users travel to various news websites to digest daily occurrences around the world. Most often have e-mail subscriptions (no matter how dated the service may be), and it is often tedious having to trawl through several websites to find the news the user is looking for.

A lot of people are now taking advantage of RSS, or Really Simple Syndication – a method of linking through a ‘feed’ that can provide up to 15 or more links (in this case, news stories) at once. This is a good new media technology, but it has room to be developed more. Subscribing to an RSS feed is anonymous, hence eliminating the need for e-mail news subscriptions, but placing several feed boxes on a browsers toolbar can seriously overload the screen with unnecessary information.

For my project I aim to manipulate four popular news websites, BBC News, Sky News, The Guardian, and The Mirror, and converging them into one feed so that online news users only need to subscribe to one feed.

I plan to do this by creating a one big feed, essentially a mash-up of the four feeds mentioned above. I will also attempt to categorise the links inside of the feed by genre so that browsing through the single feed is easier. Also, by categorising, I am also able to promote this product as an RSS 2.0 feed, rather than simply an RSS feed, thus enhancing potential attention from interested parties.

Market Research –

One very successful website that does this is, a news aggregator for the whole of Europe. Imooty allows users to pick and choose which particular publications they want to see an RSS breakdown (of top headlines) on the users ‘my imooty’ page – a clever individualisation for the website. Such personalisation of the site will keep viewers and readers coming back to the site for more, and more regularly, as all of the news they wish to digest is on one page. Imooty also has options to view the news for the rest of Europe, and is a very successful website.

Upon viewing the page source code for imooty, it is clear to see that the technical side of the website is heavily reliant on javascript coding, and embedding CSS into RSS coding, both of which are advanced coding procedures. For my project I simply intend to create a single feed which is a mash-up of four feeds, rather than creating a whole website.

I intend to create my product by obtaining and re-writing the RSS feed codes from the four sites mentioned, including date, category and GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) tags – so that any copyright issues are avoided. A simple breakdown of how one link in one section of the whole feed will look something like this:

<xml type="text/xsl">
<rss xml: version="2.0">
      <title>Saudi king chides UK on terrorism</title>  
      <description>Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah accuses Britain of doing too little to fight international terrorism.</description>  
      <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>  
      <pubDate>Mon, 29 Oct 2007 11:21:57 GMT</pubDate>  

As seen from the box above, the link is the first story from the BBC News front page, taken at 1237 on Monday 29th October 2007. The date is relevant as the feed constantly is self-updating.

Included in the sample feed is the formatting of the code, in this case, XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language) – this method eliminates the need to include CSS into the code. As with every RSS feed, the ‘version’ and ‘channel’ tags remain present, so too do the ‘item’ and ‘description’ tags.

However, the features that make this an RSS 2.0 feed, are the other tags. In this case, because the BBC is the original creator of the page (containing the story), there is no need for a GUID, hence the ‘false’ answer to the tag – the link simply points to the page that it is describing.


Also included is the publication date, and the category. These two categories are often overlooked when people create RSS feeds, but are now becoming increasingly relevant as the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox now include standard options into their browsers that tell users when RSS feeds are present on a page, and also allow users to browse directly through a feed by category.


Conclusion –


To sum up, my product will be a single RSS feed that is an amalgamation of four mini RSS feeds from BBC News, The Guardian, The Mirror, and Sky News. I will also be including features that will make this a Web 2.0 technology, such as:

·         The publication dates of the feeds, so that they are self updating

·         A GUID – so that the feed that I have created is unique

·         Category tags, so browsing through the feed is easy

·         XSL encoding, so that the need for CSS is eliminated.