BMH Online

  How 2

RSS Feed


      On this page...

  • Feed Reader

    • A problem with Thunderbird

    • Tips to improve

  • Why and where to host

  • Creating your feed

    • RSSBuilder

  • Good Practices

  • Final Note

  RSS Feed...

[21 January 2023]


In January of 2023 I finally added an RSS Feed to this website (link on homepage). I'd also never followed other feeds before either.

"RSS ... is a web feed that allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format. Subscribing to RSS feeds can allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news aggregator, which constantly monitor sites for new content, removing the need for the user to manually check them. News aggregators (or "RSS readers") can be built into a browser, installed on a desktop computer, or installed on a mobile device.

Websites usually use RSS feeds to publish frequently updated information, such as blog entries, news headlines, episodes of audio and video series, or for distributing podcasts. An RSS document ... includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author's name. RSS formats are specified using a generic XML file.

Although RSS formats have evolved from as early as March 1999, it was between 2005 and 2006 when RSS gained widespread use..." - Wikipedia

First, to the Feed reader.

For this I chose Mozilla Thunderbird. This is not a dedicated RSS reader but it has that as one of its functions so I went with it.

A problem with Mozilla Thunderbird that I encountered was that I couldn't add any feeds that were .xml rather than .rss (I considered feed.rss to be common, but anything.rss or anything.xml are also plausible since xml is the formatting used by RSS feeds.

Thunderbird reported: "The Feed URL could not be found. Please check the name and try again." whenever the feed ended in .xml

This turned out to be a limitation with my old version of Thunderbird (45.4). I upgraded to 102.7 and all was well; somewhere between these two versions the problem was resolved.


Some things about Thunderbird I don't like and tips to improve it:

  • I don't like Dark Mode so I changed this in Tools > Add-ons and Themes.

  • Sadly there is a distinct lack of additional themes from the creative community because, from what I can gather, all of the earlier ones (many of which look great in the preview) will not work (or are broken) for current versions of Thunderbird.

  • There is no General Feed that brings together all of the updates across the feeds I follow, rather I have to click through each one in the list to see what's new there.

  • Disable the default Start Page in Settings to avoid being prompted to donate.


Reasons for a Feed and where to host it:

Since using Neocities to host my website I've enjoyed using the general web-based Feed on that site to follow other sites there, and have other people follow me. However, I considered what might happen if the service stops or my site is removed.

For these reasons it seems beneficial to not rely solely on Neocities and to encourage others also to not put all their eggs in one basket. My website is additionally hosted elsewhere along with my RSS feed.


Now on to creating my own Feed.

To begin with I used RSSBuilder to create my initial feed.rss file. Saved in the rood directory of my website. This I could also edit manually with Notepad. If I made a mistake with Notepad then I might find Thunderbird fails to bring in my feed so a good way to check my Feed file works is to open it in RSSBuilder. I may just stick to using RSSBuilder but I think it's handy to see what's going on in the file itself.

Another thing I did was to back-date some entries.

Editing entries at a later day appears to generally result in duplicates in Thunderbird.


Good Practices?

I'm not sure yet what is considered to be 'good practice' regarding maintaining feeds. For example, should I eventually start deleting older entries? I found the following on Wikipedia:

"Although the number of items in an RSS channel is theoretically unlimited, some news aggregators do not support RSS files larger than 150KB."


Final Note:

Is Thunderbird secure?