Google Sites RSS Feed - Part 2: Feed43.com

posted Apr 16, 2009, 10:05 AM by Brian Johnson   [ updated Jan 27, 2010, 8:00 PM by Brian Johnson ]


Google Sites now provides native RSS feeds for Announcements pages, Comments and Recent Site Activity.  To access these feeds, look for the RSS icon!




In my previous article about generating RSS feeds from your Google Sites, I focused on using Feedity.com to generate the feed.  In this article, I will outline how I've used Feed43com to create a more robust, customizable feed.

With Feed43,com, you have the ability to fully customize your feed.  This is done by providing them with the URL for the page you wish to convert, analyzing the available data and identifying the information you wish to publish.  The final part is to format the feed and make it available for publication.






Have a question, but don't know where to start?  Check out the Google Sites FAQ


Working with Feed43.com

Specify source page address (URL)

First, let's look at the URL I provided for my feed:  http://siteshelp.kccloudsolutions.com/step-by-step-guides/rss-source

The URL points to an Announcements page on this site.  On this page, I have an Recent Posts gadget that pulls the summary information for each new item on my Step-by-Step Guides page.  Pretty straightforward.

Once Feed43.com looks at the URL, I am presented with a look at the code that makes up the page:

<li>
<a href="http://siteshelp.kccloudsolutions.com/step-by-step-guides/sitespageattachmentsimagesfilecabbinets" dir="ltr">Working with Page Attachments, Images and File Cabinets</a>

Of course, the above snipit of code is just that, a snipit.  The entire text of the site is actually displayed for you, in a resizable text box.  I've focused on this portion of the code for the simple fact that it is what is needed to complete the process of constructing the feed.

Note:  As you move through this guide, each Pattern example is meant to be copied and used in construction of your own Feed43.com feeds.  What works here, for my feed, should work equally as well for yours.

Define Extraction Rules

After having analyzed the data and identified the information you want/need for your feed, your next step is to provide the extraction rules for Feed43.  To do this, we first define a Global Search Pattern.  This is simply a rule that tells Feed43 where to look in the page.  For our purposes, we will focus on the entire page.

Global Search Pattern:

{%}

Next, we need to specify exactly what we are looking for.  In our case, we want each new Announcement, its URL, title, summary and date/time posted:

Item (Repeatable) Search Pattern:

Beginning of new Announcement
Announcement URL
Announcement Title
Announcement Summary
Date/Time Posted
<li class="line-divider sites-embed-background"{*}
href="{%}"{*}
dir="ltr">{%}</a>{*}
<span class="wiki_summarized" dir="ltr">{%}</span>{*}
Posted {%} by{*}

* NOTE:  Google Sites periodically modifies the underlying code behind the Recent Posts gadget.  When this happens, your feed is likely to break.  Whenever this is brought to my attention, I will modify the Search Pattern above to work with the new changes.

Once the Search Patterns are defined, you will click an Extract button to generate a sample list of available data.  The out put will look something like this:

Sample (Extracted) Text Snipits:

Item 1

{%1} = http://siteshelp.kccloudsolutions.com/step-by-step-guides/sitespageattachmentsimagesfilecabbinets
{%2} = Working with Page Attachments, Images and File Cabinets
{%3} =   Attaching a file to your Google Site can be done in a number of ways.  One method, of course, is to embed documents, spreadsheets or presentations through Google Docs.  Each ...
{%4} = Apr 5, 2009 8:14 PM

Item 2

{%1} = http://siteshelp.kccloudsolutions.com/step-by-step-guides/googlesitesrssfeed
{%2} = Google Sites RSS Feed
{%3} = While Google Sites does not currently offer RSS feeds, this doesn't mean that you have to go without.  In fact, I have a feed running from this site that ...
{%4} = Apr 15, 2009 9:46 AM




Define Output Format

The next step (almost done!) is to format the feed for publication.  There are two parts to this process:
  1. Define the properties of the feed.
  2. Define the properties of each feed item
Defining the properties of the feed is as simple as filling out three text fields:
  1. Feed Title
  2. Feed Link
  3. Feed Description
Defining the properties of each feed item involves using the Sample (Extracted) Text Snipits above to identify how you want your feed to display.  You're actually building a template, so you'll need to use variables rather than text.  The good news is that the variables have been provided for you.  In our case, the variables are as follows:
  • Announcement URL = {%1}
  • Announcement Title = {%2}
  • Announcement Summary = {%3}
  • Date / Time Posted = {%4}
To actually use these variables, I filled out the Title, Link and Content (Description) fields as follows:

Item Title Template:  {%2}
Item Link Template:  {%1}
Item Content Template:

{%3}<BR>
<EM>Published {%4} by <A href="http://www.kccloudsolutions.com" title="KC Cloud Solutions" alt="KC Cloud Solutions">www.kccloudsolutions.com</a></EM>


* Note:  The Item Content Template field allows for the use of custom HTML to format your feed.

Finally, we get to a preview of what our feed will look like:

Unofficial Google Sites Help

Unofficial Google Sites Help - Sponsored by KC Cloud Solutions

  1. Working with Page Attachments, Images and File Cabinets
      Attaching a file to your Google Site can be done in a number of ways.  One method, of course, is to embed documents, spreadsheets or presentations through Google Docs.  Each ...
    Published Apr 5, 2009 8:14 PM by www.kccloudsolutions.com

    -- Delivered by Feed43 service


  2. Google Sites RSS Feed
    http://siteshelp.kccloudsolutions.com/step-by-step-guides/googlesitesrssfeed
    While Google Sites does not currently offer RSS feeds, this doesn't mean that you have to go without.  In fact, I have a feed running from this site that ...
    Published Apr 15, 2009 9:46 AM by www.kccloudsolutions.com

    -- Delivered by Feed43 service

Get Your RSS Feed

The last step is to customize your feed URL.  You don't have to do this, but if you don't, you'll wind up with URL you can't remember.  For my needs, I chose:

Google also owns a service called FeedBurner that provides a number of tracking and analysis options for your RSS feeds.  Once you've created your RSS feed, and have the URL available, you might want to run it through FeedBurner and publish the resulting FeedBurner URL instead:

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