Monday, June 26, 2006

Basics of Blogging Series: Part Thirteen - The Basic Elements in the "Channel" Element

Now that you are familiar with templates, or at least what an RSS Template should look like, and some of the possibilities within the template, let us attack the "Channel" description. This article will deal with Channel Main Elements. The next article will deal with Channel sub-elements more specifically the "image" element.

I am again reminding you. That most blog software today will take care of RSS and Atom technology automatically. You have nothing to do nor do you have to worry about it. However, if you want to create a specialized RSS feed, one which contains only specific information, or one which can be fed out in numerous formats, you will have to learn the rudiments of RSS feeds and how they work. For those of you not interested in doing this, skip the articles on RSS, or just peruse them to get your feet wet.

Crtitical Point - None of these are required EXCEPT for the <CHANNEL></CHANNEL> command line.
However it would be to your best interest to include some of them.

In the previous article we described a channel, but it will do good to go over it again.

Look on a Channel as how you choose to define the information you are going to put into the RSS file (remember it is rss.xml for our series.) For instance if you are putting out an RSS file to get people to look at your Web Site which has information about and sells Perfume, your channel would be:

<title>Randy Pandy's Perfumery</title>
and read in the RSS File as:


<title>Randy Pandy's Perfumery</title>

That is pretty easy isn't it?
Just keep on telling yourself that it is all that easy. Do not sweat the little stuff.</p>

Next comes the Description of your Channel.
So how are we going to define your Channel?
Hmmm...let's see:
"RSS Feed for The Great Perfume Products Sold At Randy's Pandy's Perfumery"
which would like:
<description>RSS Feed for The Great Perfume Products Sold At Randy's Pandy's Perfumery</description>

Hey not so bad is it? See I told you!
Okay now the next command - Copyright.
That should be easy. After all we are going to release everything we write out into the Internet Virtual world and we would like to mark the text with just some sort of ownership statement. That is your copyright.

<copyright>Copyright 2006 Randy Pandy's Perfumery - All Rights Reserved</copyright>

Okay next command - The "link" command.
You do want to be able to give any viewers the ability to know just where to find these great deals on perfume, don't you? After all the whole purpose of creating this "x####ooo&^%$#(((__" feed is to get them to BUY from you! So the link command tells them where you are and how to get to you.
Let us say your website is at the directory:
So your link command will look like:

Okay Next is Language. Why you ask do we need a language command? Well it is part of the RSS specifications and it is important for the Readers to know just what langauge you are using. It also helps search engines know what language this is. And anything you can do to be helpful to Search Engines is critical. And here we have to be careful. Most of us will be writing in English. But what happens if the RSS feed is in another language?
Well the code works like this.
language-code = primary-code ( "-" subcode )
So if you were writing in English from the United States your code would be:
You do not need the subcode. "en" would be enough.
(If you need a langauge code table try:
or some two letter codes are: fr (French), de (German), it (Italian), nl (Dutch), el (Greek), es (Spanish), pt (Portuguese), ar (Arabic), he (Hebrew), ru (Russian), zh (Chinese), ja (Japanese), hi (Hindi), ur (Urdu), and sa (Sanskrit).)

So our next line will read:
(Remember the "-us" is purely optional.)

Now we come to the "last build date". Again the reason for this is simple. To let search engines and users know when was the last time you updated the file. However, here too, there are some caveates. You must follow specifications on Dates. Let us remain simple here.
Each Day & Month is represented by a 3 letter character, as follows:
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Now as to time, well let us not get complicated. We can use GMT, EST, CST, MST, PST etc.
Most RSS feeds will prefer to use the GMT as it is basically universal and can be checked on the internet fairly simply.
So finally our date will look like this:
<lastBuildDate>Sun, 4 Dec 2005 23:00:00 GMT</lastBuildDate>

Okay before we end the BASIC aspects of the Channel description let us just include some of the other possiblities here (the last three are real technical so we will leave them out of our feed.)

  • pubDate - this is along the same syntax as our lastbuilddate and just tells people when you publish the file. Usually used for newspapers and the like to flip automatically each day.

  • managingEditor - this is the email address for person responsible for content of the feed. So here we would put: (Randy Pandy)

  • webMaster - this the email address for the person responsible for technical issues relating to channel. So here we would put: (Pandy Randy)

  • category - This is used to specify one or more categories that the channel belongs to. So here we may put: "E-commerce"

  • generator - This is A string indicating the program used to generate the channel.

  • skipDays - A hint for aggregators telling them which days they can skip.

  • skipHours - A hint for aggregators telling them which hours they can skip.

So what are we left with?
Well here we go (including also pubdate, managing editor, webmaster & category):


<title>Randy Pandy's Perfumery</title>
<description>RSS Feed for The Great Perfume Products Sold At Randy's Pandy's Perfumery</description>
<copyright>"Copyright 2006 Randy Pandy's Perfumery - All Rights Reserved"</copyright>
<managingEditor> (Randy Pandy)</managingEditor>
<webMaster> (Pandy Randy)</webMaster>
<pubdate>Mon, 5 Dec 2005 23:00:00 GMT</pubdate>
<lastBuildDate>Sun, 4 Dec 2005 23:00:00 GMT</lastBuildDate>

The <channel> tag should now make sense to all of you. Remember, all you need is the actual <channel> </channel> and nothing else. However, it would be wise to also include in your RSS feed, the <title>, <description>, <copyright> and <link> tags and perhaps the <lastBuildDate>. And remember to open and close! <title> </title>.

Previous Articles In This Series:

  1. The Basics of Blogging and Web Site Creation - Part One: Content Is King

  2. The Basics of Blogging and Web Site Creation - Part Two: Introduction To Keywords

  3. Part Three - Keywords, Tags, Categories - Oh Vey! I Am So Mixed Up!

  4. Blogging & Website Basics - Part Four: So How The Hell Do I Get Bonafide Links To My Blog?

  5. Blogging - Part Five: Trying to Understand the Psychology Behind It All

  6. Blogging - Part Six: Viral Technology - An Introduction

  7. Blogging - Part Seven: Article Submission As A Tool To Extend Your Reach

  8. Basics Of Blogging Series - Part Eight: Using Email As An Advertising Tool

  9. Basics of Blogging Series: Part Nine - RSS Mania Addiction An Introduction To RSS and the Terminology

  10. Basics of Blogging Series: Part Ten - Outline of How to Create an RSS Feed

  11. Basics of Blogging Series: Part Eleven - Debunking a Few RSS Myths

  12. Basics of Blogging Series: Part Twelve - The RSS Feed Template File

Click Here For The Cumulative Index To All Posts @ Cobwebs Of The Mind

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Categories: technology, internet, Basics of Blogging Series, What Is RSS? Series
Basics of Blogging Series: Part Thirteen - The Basic Elements in the "Channel" Element

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