I’ll try and keep it simple. I’m sure that you can instantly recognize the small orange icon with “RSS” written on it, as seen on many web sites now-a-days. This orange icon links to a web feed or summary of the recent headlines or articles on that site. And let me tell you that a lot of web sites now have support for web feeds. You can use a web-based or desktop aggregator/reader tool to subscribe to your favorite web feeds, and read them all at one place as they are updated. This gives you rapid access to online publishing’ such as news or articles. And best of all, you don’t have to visit each site individually. Your aggregator tool does the syndication for you.
Now, there are still a lot of informational web sites which don’t have a web feed. How do you go about subscribing to their content? This is where a new service called FeedTier that we’ve been experimenting with comes in. FeedTier is a web feeds generator for web pages without an existing syndication format. It turns any web page into a live web feed. FeedTier performs content analysis, picks-up the most prominent cluster of hyperlinks and automatically generates RSS web feeds from web pages without existing sydincation options. FeedTier is an experimental service and free for personal use. FeedTier enables anyone to build custom web feeds for virtually any web site they desire. FeedTier requires no programming and is completely automated.
FeedTier 1.0 Beta currently supports feed generation in RSS 2.0 format. On a technical note, I wrote a pretty basic content analysis algorithm along with a custom hash-map tree type collection which makes the content harvesting possible. The application has been written in C# .NET 1.1.
If you are further interested in web feeds or syndication or aggregation, and knowing more about terms like RSS and Atom, then I suggest you have a quick look at the non-technical standpoint on these terms. You can also have a look at a vast list of feed aggregator tools (online or desktop).
FeedTier came out of our own necessity for subscription to web sites without any provision for web feeds. It’s an experimental service and not yet perfect in its results. But it can still be used for a lot of web pages and the results will improve gradually. We hope it helps!
So try it out, blog about it and send in your feedback.