An old post from 2010 outlined a method that I used successfully to create update feeds for some of my static websites. It’s been a long time since I needed to add an entry to the feeds and when I went to do it yesterday I discovered it doesn’t work any more. This is because Google changed Reader removing the Note in Reader function that the old method relied upon.
After searching around the net I came to the conclusion that I’d have to just manually create the XML files for the RSS feeds. I spent some time getting it to work but the biggest hurdle is re-working the HTML snippets for the feed. You have to change all the XML reserved characters to escaped versions, which I got wrong many times.
It became very apparent that hand editing the XML was not going to be a viable way to create the feed because of the amount of time it would take to get each update correct. So I searched more and found a solution that I wish I’d found before I started in 2010.
The truly simple and painless way to create RSS feeds for static web sites is an application from Dan Bricklin. He released the program nearly a decade ago but for some reason almost no one mentions it in response to questions about this topic. The program, ListGarden is released under the GPL and available as a generic Perl application, a Windows binary and a Mac OS-X Perl application.
The documentation is excellent making it very easy to get up and running. Once the XML is created and placed on the web site, simply point FeedBurner to the XML and you’re done. Well there’s actually a bit more required for best effect but there are a ton of resources on the net that cover the topic including the FeedBurner Help pages.
I do have one tip for using ListGarden, if you use the Reorder function make sure to modify the PubDates so that the list remains in chronological order. I didn’t do this and it made FeedBurner act very strange.
In case you’re interested, the best page I found for manually creating the XML file is: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad, a Web Server, and a Beer ~ Stephen’s Web.