Monday, August 27, 2012

Customizable RSS Feeds

Do you use RSS feeds? Then you know how useful they can be when you want alerts to newly published online information that applies to you: professionally or personally. This kind of targeted, agile publishing is exactly what Tizra is all about and, as you'd expect, we offer simple yet flexible features that let you get the most relevant updates out to your most interested users.

In case you're unfamiliar with RSS, it's basically a way of formatting information so that people can subscribe to and view it in feed reading software (Details from Wikipedia).  RSS means users save time because they're notified of anything new at their favorite sites without needing to visit them.
Tizra RSS feeds can be linked to from the homepage of your Tizra site, or any other web page.
By default, Tizra sites include an RSS feed that updates subscribers every time any new Document is added.  For example, here's a feed that'll update you any time Columbia University Press adds a book to the CUPOLA site they run on Tizra...

http://cupola.columbia.edu/~rss

The recipe for this is simple: Just take the domain name for the site (cupola.columbia.edu) and add ~rss at the end.

Customizing RSS Feeds:
You can customize the default feed just by adding a few parameters at the end of its URL.  Following are a few examples.

Collection Feed
Say you're only interested in Columbia's Business and Economics collection.  You'd start with the URL for the collection (http://cupola.columbia.edu/tdprp/) and add the ~rss to get...

http://cupola.columbia.edu/tdprp/~rss

Excerpt Feed
One of the really interesting things about the way Tizra lets you work with content is that you can unbundle Documents into shorter chunks called Excerpts, which can then be rebundled with other content.  These Excerpts can be the basis of feeds, too.  For example, The Association of Research Libraries breaks up each issue of its publication Research Library Issues into Excerpts—one for each article—and generates a feed like this...

http://publications.arl.org/all_rli_articles/~rss?metaTypeName=PageRange

By adding ?metaTypeName=PageRange at the end, the feed is switched to list Excerpts, rather than whole Documents.  This makes sense in a lot of cases like this, where users will probably find it more interesting to see the titles of each article in their feed reader, rather than just being informed that a new issue has come out.  Note: It's also possible to generate an Excerpt feed by using the Collection approach above.  Just configure the Collection to include Excerpts (or a combination of Excerpts & Documents) and the feed that's created by adding ~rss to the URL will include whatever's in the Collection.

Tag-Based Feed
You can also create a more free-form feed that will update users any time you apply a certain tag to your content.  For example, here's a feed containing everything with the "Automotive" tag on the Goodheart-Willcox Online Textbooks site...

http://www.g-wonlinetextbooks.com/~rss?AdminTags=Automotive

These are just a few examples...by no means comprehensive.  You could also do things like generate a feed with all the works of a particular author, update conference participants any time new items are added to a particular session, limit the number of items in a feed.  Drop us a note, and we'll be glad to discuss in more detail.

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