Build an RSS Feed for Joomla with Dapper
Written by Graham Clarke   
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 05:00

Recently I needed to create an RSS feed for a site without a local RSS service.  The site uses Joomla! 1.0.x, which doesn't have built in RSS support and available RSS components for Joomla! 1.0.x are buggy and open security holes in your site.   Then along came Dapper (www.dapper.com ) .  Dapper is a web based mashup tool that makes it to do all sorts of neat things with content.  I needed to create an RSS feed, here's how it's done:

 

Each"recipe" or data maping routine in Dapper is called a dapp. Dapper's interface for creating dapps is the Dapp Factory

  1. Go to the Dapp Factory and enger the URL of the page you'd like to create the RSS for.  Select the tab labled "In a website" and enter the URL -  http://www.53tech.com/blog  Then select the format you want out the other end ... choose RSS Feed since I want to make an RSS Feed from my site.  There are a number other output formats that will let you do neat stuff.  Click the Next Step button.
  2. Collect Sample Pages - Dapper pulls your URL into a window.  Verify this is what you want and click the Add to Basket buton.  You can add more URLs if you want to pull content from multiple sources. 
  3. Hit the Next Step butto.  If there was only 1 page in your basket Dapper will display a notice saying that 2 or more pages works best.  I've had good results with 1 URL ... a Joomla! category in blog layout in this case.
  4. Select Content - This is the cool part.  Mouse over your page displayed in the Dapp Factory and notice the box enclosing each DOM element as your mouse moves around the page. I'm makingan RSS feed from this blog, so I want the Article title, Intro text, and Date published.
  5. Click the title of the first article.  Notice the "Preview Selected Content" at lower left.  Click Save Field, enter a meaningful name like "Article Title" and tell Dapper how to use this field in your RSS feed.
  6. Repeat this step for the Intro text and Date published fields.  You can select and deselect DOM elements using your mouse and CTRL / Command key.  I now have 3 fields in the "Content Fields" window.  Click the Next Step button.
  7. Preview Content - You'll see an outline of the new RSS feed.  Under "Groups", click the edit link and enter a meaningful name like "53 Technology Blog Article" and save your group.  Click the Next Step button.
  8. Save Feed - Enter a title, description, tags.  Click the Save button and you're done.
  9. To use your new Dapp just locate the RSS icon and copy the link or click the RSS icon to see your feed in a browser.  
  10. Dapper lets you setup a web service for your new Dapp which makes the URL a lot more friendly.  Find "Get a nice short URL" at the bottom right of the screen.  The URL for my new RSS feed is http://www.dapper.net/services/53techblog

It took me a couple of tries before I was satisfied with my new RSS feeds.   The process is pretty quick and Dapper's UI is intuitive and easy to use.  Once I had the feed URLs in hand for the customer's Joomla! 1.x site, I set them up in FeedBurner and viola!  Great RSS feeds with none of the head ache from unsupported Joomla! RSS components.

 


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