Earlier this month, Ton mused about whether it was time to return to the blogroll (and, yes, it may seem like recently my blog has turned into musing about Ton musing about things I’ve mused about; you can join in, though!).
One of the things I found when I was poking around inside Tiny Tiny RSS, which I use to consume RSS feeds, is that it provides a public URL for an OPML file that contains all of the feeds I subscribe to. So I’ve stuck that in the footer of this site (as “OPML (Blogroll)”) and you can grab it right now if you like.
Update: I switched to using FreshRSS as my RSS reader, and it only supports exporting my OPML, so I’ve manually uploaded it, and you can grab it here.
For the uninitiated, let me unpack this:
I read a bunch of websites.
These websites get updated, all on different schedules.
Some update every day. Some every hour. Some one every six months.
I don’t want to have to open up my web browser and type www.zylstra.org every morning on the off chance that Ton has written something: I want a robot to do that for me.
That’s what RSS is all about: I give my RSS reader a list of websites that have RSS feeds (a list of things that have been written, sorted by date, in a way that is easy for a robot to consume), and the RSS reader goes off, every 15 minutes, all on its own, and looks to see if there’s anything new. If there is, the new items show up in my RSS reader, where I read them.
An OPML file adds one more level of abstraction: an OPML file is a machine-readable list of RSS feeds themselves, a list that I can pass around to other people, sort of like a reading list or list of references. Ideally, they can import the OPML file into their RSS reader, and, presto!, they can subscribe to the same things I subscribe to.
Here’s what an OPML file look like under the hood:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <opml version="1.0"> <head> <dateCreated>Thu, 26 Apr 2018 20:54:02 +0000</dateCreated> <title>Tiny Tiny RSS Feed Export</title> </head> <body> <outline text="Friends"> <outline type="rss" text="Edward Hasbrouck" xmlUrl="https://hasbrouck.org/blog/index.xml" htmlUrl="https://hasbrouck.org/blog/"/> <outline type="rss" text="Elmine Wijnia" xmlUrl="http://storymin.es/feed/" htmlUrl="http://storymin.es"/> <outline type="rss" text="Olle Jonsson" xmlUrl="http://ollehost.dk/blog/feed/" htmlUrl="http://ollehost.dk/blog"/> <outline type="rss" text="Parker Higgins" xmlUrl="https://parkerhiggins.net/feed/" htmlUrl="https://parkerhiggins.net"/> <outline type="rss" text="Peter Bihr" xmlUrl="http://www.thewavingcat.com/feed/rss/" htmlUrl="http://www.thewavingcat.com"/> <outline type="rss" text="Steven Garrity" xmlUrl="http://www.actsofvolition.com/feed" htmlUrl="http://www.actsofvolition.com/"/> <outline type="rss" text="Ton Zijlstra" xmlUrl="https://www.zylstra.org/blog/feed/" htmlUrl="https://www.zylstra.org/blog"/> </outline> </body> </opml>
That’s just a slice of my OPML file, and it lists the RSS feeds of my friends.
Like RSS, OPML never really went away. But it feels good to be talking about it again, as, like RSS, it’s one of those very useful bits of plumbing that makes the social web work.