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Searching, Subscribing and Syndication

For over two years now, I've published weekly PhotoTips here at Earthbound Light so I thought it was about time I added a couple of important additional features. Searching and Subscribing: two great ideas whose time has come.

Searching

You can now search the full text of all the tips posted here. As the archives have continued to grow, I've found that finding previous tips has gotten more difficult. While Google and other search engines are great, there's always at least a small lag after new tips are posted before they are indexed. I wanted to have a search capability that was always completely up-to-date, and that meant writing it myself. Let me know what you think. You can find the Search page via the link at the top of this page or by clicking here.

Subscribing and Syndication

Taking advantage of a growing technology called RSS, new tips are now available for syndication. You may have started noticing this icon PhotoTips RSS Feed on some of the websites you visit. This link can be used by specialized programs known as a "news aggregators" (or simply "RSS Readers") to enable you to subscribe to their feed. The XML icon here links to the PhotoTips RSS feed, or you can also use the URL: http://www.earthboundlight.com/subscribe/phototips.xml. Please note that this is not a normal web page, as it is written in XML, not HTML. It will display as a color-coded tree view in many web browsers, but you really need a news aggregator to make use of it. Thankfully, there are a number of good options available out there. Read on to find out more.

What is RSS?

RSS, short for "Really Simple Syndication," is a standard based on XML that provides an easy way to publish and syndicate content in a way that can be read by other applications. There are currently two main versions of RSS that are unfortunately not compatible with each other, but luckily most applications that read RSS understand all of them. For the curious, Earthbound Light is currently published as RSS 1.0.

So, what can you do with RSS?

First, you can subscribe to RSS feeds using a news aggregator. I'm currently using a slick program called NewsGator that delivers news items directly to Microsoft Outlook, just like regular email. There are a number of other programs, both freeware and shareware, availble for Windows, MoxOS and other platforms though so find one you like and have at it.

Note that you do not need to provide an email address in order to subscribe. Just point your RSS reader at this link and you're done: PhotoTips RSS Feed. It's free, and it's easy.

For the full scoop on subscribing, follow the Subscribe link at the top of this page or simply click here.

You can also use RSS feeds to add content to your weblog ("blog") or other website. If your site is written with Perl, PHP, ASP or most any other technology you can probably find a way to make use of the syndication possibilities provided by the RSS feed. As an easier alternative though, you can add PhotoTips to your site without the hassle of dealling with XML and RSS directly by taking advantage of the nifty PhotoTip Feed Generator. This will provide you with a small piece of Javascript you can simply paste on your site and presto: instant PhotoTips feed.

Be sure to read the relevent pages for all the details including licensing terms for syndication.

Enjoy.


Date posted: April 18, 2004

 

Copyright © 2004 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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