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Understanding RSS – Part Six – RSS Channel Sub-Elements Specifically “Image” (& How To Use It)

  • Posted September 16, 2006
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This is a continuation from my articles on RSS

  • Part One – “RSS Mania Addiction – An Introduction to RSS and the Terminology”
  • Part Two – Outline of How to Create an RSS Feed”
  • Part Three – The Template File”
  • Part Four – The Basic Elements of the Channel Element”
  • Part Five – How The RSS Feed Works & Some Programming Constructs”

Now we have covered some of the major points in the “Channel” element, we will now cover the various sub-elements in the channel element – specifically the “image” element.
Crtitical Point – None of these are required EXCEPT for the command line of:

<CHANNEL></CHANNEL>
However it would be to your best interest to include some of them.
Our purpose is to create an RSS feed template that you can use, and what is known as a “well formed XML document” which will pass validation with flying colors! (And make you into a techie as well!)

Those of you who understand RSS templates might ask why I am concentrating so much on the Channel element and it is a valid question. The thing is that possibilities within a Channel element are all meant to actually “publicize” the information for your entire web site. If you are CNN or Microsoft or the New York Times you have nothing to worry about. But if you are like the majority of us out there, then every bit of information you can get into your RSS template may help. Additionally, it is simply good practice to include some of these elements as the more RSS spreads the more they will be used.

First let me briefly cover the three sub-elements which you will almost NEVER find in an RSS template. (You can easily skip this part, unless you want to understand most of the innards of the RSS 2.0 specification.)

  • Cloud sub-Element – This sub-element which will appear as follows: <cloud></cloud>. Its purpose is to allow a processes to register with a cloud to be notified of updates to the channel. In other words the Cloud acts as a farm to feed out RSS feeds to “computers” connected to it. Sort of like a buffer.
  • textinput sub-element – This sub-element is strange in that I have yet to find a use or clear description of what it is supposed to do. Mostly ignored by all.
  • ttl sub-element – This sub-element announces announces its ttl = “Time To Live” to the aggregators before they should refresh the information from the source. An example of this would be:
    <ttl>180</ttl> Which tells aggregator that it has 180 minutes before it must return to refresh the information from the source. (If you read Part Five of the series you will know this is sometimes an important sub-element.)

Okay now we are ready for Channel sub-element of image. The image defined here is the image usually asscociated with your RSS feed or your web page. In other words usually it is your LOGO.

Since your LOGO is of critical importance, as most people are visual and they do associate pictures with names, (as the Internet proves over and over again), you should take the time to get this into your RSS template. It is fairly simple so follow these four options within the sub-element of image.

Ready?

  1. First we continue the list (from article four and repeated below at the end with the “image” command. No Biggie here. Just typing or cut and paste.

    <image>
  2. Next we have the “Title” command. In here usually goes the name of the Business. “Randy Pandy’s Perfumery” in our case. That is easy enough.


  3. This next one is optional but good practice. This tells the parser how big your logo is, by width and height. If you don’t know, just call up in a directory and run your mouse over the file or ask for its properties by right-click. It will tell you the height and width. Remember this is an RSS file, so make the logo a small size and keep its weight down. Good practice is no bigger than 250(w) X 150(h) (and that is huge) and no heavier than 20k (and that is heavy!) We will go for 142X99.

    <width>142</width><height>99</height>


  4. Now you tell the parser in the “Link” command just where your web site is. That is simple and we have done that already. So..

    <link>http://www.randpandy.com</link>
  5. And finally in the “URL” you tell the Parser through your RSS file just where the LOGO can be found on your web site. (Do not link it to your home computer as that is NOT your web server!)

    <url>http://www.randpandy.com/images/randylogo.jpg</url>
  6. And finally we close off the “image” tag.

    </image>

See that was not that hard was it?

Okay lets see what are rss.xml file which will make our RSS feed looks like until now.

<CHANNEL>

<TITLE>Randy Pandy&#8217;s Perfumery</TITLE>

<DESCRIPTION>RSS Feed for The Great Perfume Products Sold At Randy&#8217;s Pandy&#8217;s Perfumery</DESCRIPTION>


<copyright>&#8220;Copyright 2006 Randy Pandy&#8217;s Perfumery &#8211; All Rights Reserved&#8221;</copyright>



<link>http://www.randypandy.com</link>



<language>en-us</language>



<managingEditor>randypandy@randypandy.com (Randy Pandy)</managingEditor>



<webMaster>webmaster@randypandy.com (Pandy Randy)</webMaster>





<pubdate>Mon, 5 Dec 2005 23:00:00 GMT</pubdate>



<lastBuildDate>Sun, 4 Dec 2005 23:00:00 GMT</lastBuildDate>


<IMAGE>

<title>Randy Pandy&#8217;s Perfumery</TITLE>

<WIDTH>142</WIDTH><HEIGHT>99</HEIGHT>

<LINK>http://www.randpandy.com</LINK>

<URL>http://www.randpandy.com/images/randylogo.jpg</URL>

</IMAGE>

That’s it for the Channel element! YEAH!
And guess what? You can get away without using most of these commands.
However as I keep on saying it is good practice.

Our next article will discuss the basics of the “Item” element.

Copyright © 2005 Ted W. Gross. All rights reserved. (You may publish this article in its entirety with the following author’s information with live links only.)

Ted Gross - EzineArticles Expert Author

Ted W. Gross owns Virgin Earth http://www.virginisrael.com, a real estate brokerage firm in Jerusalem, Israel. Virgin Earth represents residential and commercial real estate all over Israel. Virgin Earth also maintains an RSS Feed on its current properties and also operates Virgin Earth – Israel Tourism & Information Portal on the same site. Ted Gross is also a published author and maintains a web site for his works. This can be found at: http://www.virginisrael.com/twg/iw.html Virgin Earth Blog can be found at: http://virginearth.blogspot.com/

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  • Posted On September 16, 2006
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