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Intermediate Content Syndication with RSS files

16th November 2001

The most popular content available on the internet, that nearly every website wants to include, are the latest news headlines for their websites area of expertise.

Although many, many types of news headlines can be found in the Freesticky index, alot of websites would still like to have more control and more variety of the headlines they add as content.

For the more technically minded, there are hundreds of websites that freely syndicate their headlines using a protocol known as RSS (Rich Site Summary), it is a form of XML file that can be found on many websites and news headline aggregators (like

The difficulty is reading the file into your webpage. If you try to include it like a Javascript file the result looks quite weird! If you have asp or jsp on your server you could use PerlScript or a component to retrieve the file to your servers local drive and then parse it using VBScript or JScript.

However, there is now a quick and easy free solution available for any webmaster who can run a J2EE compliant application server like Apache's Jakarta-Tomcat (also available for free!).

A free Java Servlet is available called JERRS (Jay Eckles Rich Site Summary) which generates Javascript that can be used by the web author to read from offsite RSS files and dynamically create custom HTML. It provides a greater ability to customize than any other RSS software. The only programming knowledge a web author needs to use the JERSS servlet is Javascript.

What is RSS?
RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary". It is a defined XML format (or "schema"). It is a format designed to provide easy and consistent syndication of headlines on the Internet. Almost every major media outlet provides syndicated headlines, either for free or on a subscription basis, in RSS format. It has become the media industry standard for syndication.

There are several versions of RSS in use, with the most common being 0.91 and RDF 1.0. Netscape is often credited with inventing RSS for use on their public portal page called My Netscape Network for providing content modules. Other websites such as Slashdot and Userland developed very similar formats that influenced the definition of RSS; examples include the somewhat popular scriptingNews schema.

RSS is not a standard sanctioned by the W3C like XML or HTML. The doctype for RSS is hosted by Netscape, and is maintained by an RSS developer community.

You can download JERRS for free from Jays website.

Thankyou Jay for providing such a valuable free tool to the webmaster community!  

Copyright © 2000 Mark Wickman, All Rights Reserved.

Author Information:
Mark Wickman

Please feel free to reprint this article but include a credit to

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