Styling Rss entries in an Aggregator

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I’m working on a project to add beauty back to the blogging experience, even when read by an Rss Aggregator.

For example, in RssBandit, you can select a style for displaying blog entries (via XSLT formatters). Currently, this setting applies to all feeds. In order for this to work well, some creative stripping of the style within an item must occur, otherwise you can get some very ugly (even unreadable) results.

I’ve been working (albeit slowly) on a spec allowing a blog to “suggest” a style (or custom formatter) for a blog entry when read in an aggregator. Based on your aggregator settings, the aggregator would either accept the style from the blog, or it would use your predefined style.

Some nice benefits include the fact that the style the RssFeed suggests could be customized to the user’s aggregator. For example, if the aggregator supports Longhorn, the RssFeed might suggest a formatter that converts the blog entry into XAML. This nicely separates the presentation from the content, and yet gives both the content producer and consumer some control over the presentation.

Some issues I need to think about is whether this should be an extension to RSS or use a new API. Not only that, I need to gather some feedback on whether or not this is even a good idea and worth my time.


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5 responses

  1. Avatar for Adam Kinney
    Adam Kinney March 2nd, 2004

    I've started working on my own Longhorn feed aggregator[1] Currently I am storing Feed items as documents and I expect Styling them will come pretty easily.


  2. Avatar for (Haac (Haac March 2nd, 2004

    How do you plan to style them? XSLT?

  3. Avatar for Adam Kinney
    Adam Kinney March 3rd, 2004

    No with Avalon's styles:

    I don't quite know how it will work dynamically yet, but that's what I plan to use.

  4. Avatar for Dare Obasanjo
    Dare Obasanjo March 3rd, 2004

    There have been a number of discussions about CSS and RSS feeds. The best place to get an overview of the past discussions is

    I think that blog post has a proposal for a new element in the feed that points to a CSS style sheet. I personally don't think much of having this functionality and it would be a hassle to track styles for individual feeds. However we do have a work item for a future version of RSS Bandit to investigate what it would take to provide individual XSLT styles per feed which could be extended to include suggested CSS styles from the site as well.

    It's low on my priority list but I will take a look at it in a couple of weeks.

  5. Avatar for (haac (haac March 4th, 2004

    I'm actually not behind the idea of embedding a CSS stylesheet into the Rss Format. The problem with that in my mind is that CSS is very geared to Html whereas the XML in RSS can be transformed into a presentation other than HTML (for example XAML).

    I think it would be better for a blog to "suggest" an XSLT style. The XSLT could transform the Rss feed item into Html with Css, or anything else.