RSS Documents

An RSS document, also called RSS feed or RSS channel, is used to provide a list of items that contain information about certain subjects. Prime examples are news headlines and announcements of any kind.

Structure of an RSS Document

Each item of an RSS item list consists of a descriptive title, a link that provides access to further information such as an article, a brief description of the item in question and a date such as the publication date. The last two are optional, but it is recommended to make use of them in order to provide more information beforehand and not force a user to follow a link needlessly. The item list is usually sorted so that more recent items come first.

An RSS document also contains certain information about the feed or channel itself. This meta data consists like-wise of a title, a link, a description and a date, but additionally, the language and the author of the document and a copyright statement may be specified.

The web page editor is able to read all known formats of RSS documents (see also [RSS]) and extract the relevant information. A generated RSS document makes always use of the RSS 1.0 format, which is based on RDF (see also [RDF] and the section about RDF documents) and therefore the most powerful format.

Textual Representation of RSS

The textual representation of an RSS document looks like this:

#Title  W3Browse Changes
#Descr  W3Browse is a text-based web-browser and e-mail-client.
	The most important changes made to the application are
	summarized for each version of the software.
#Date   2004-06-30
#Lang   en-us
#Author Alexander Krebs
#Rights Copyright (C) 2004 Alexander Krebs <aleks_at_aksware_dot_de>

Title:  Version 20040630 of w3browse released
Descr:  A new version of w3browse has been released which includes a
	simple Wiki-like text-based editor for HTML and RSS pages.
Date:   2004-06-30


A sequence of text blocks that are separated by empty lines constitute the textual representation of an RSS document. Each text block consists of a number of fields. A field always starts with a case-insensitive name at the beginning of a new line and has a value that is separated from its name by one or more white-space characters. The value extends to the end of the line and can be split over multiple consecutive lines that start with white-space characters. Leading and trailing white-space of a value is removed and consecutive white-space characters are finally collapsed into one during processing.

The first text block, which extends to the first empty line, is special and is used to define the meta data of the RSS document, while all following blocks build up the RSS item list, one block for each item. The order of the fields within a text block does not matter. Optional fields that are missing or have an empty value are omitted from the generated RSS document. The same is valid for unknown fields.