Traders from around the globe come to http://www.import-export-guide.com/trade to post trade leads - their requirements for products they want to buy and details of the products they have to sell. New trade leads are added all the time and it's important that traders can easily and quickly find out what new requirements and product offers are posted.
Most traders are busy people with lots to do. Not really wanting to add to their burden of websites to visit, we decided it would be best to find a simple method of alerting our members about the latest trade leads.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) was the perfect solution.
RSS is an XML format originally developed by Netscape as a way of aggregating or combining the headlines of various news-type sites for display on a portal site. It has been through a few versions, the most current being RSS 2.0 which we used on this project.
As well as being used by many news sites, the format is popular among the blogging community as it allows them to easily distribute the content of their blogs.
The advantages of using an RSS feed include:
It is simple to implement
The feed can be easily added to desktop or web-based readers
It displays the latest content from your site
It includes links back to your site
It helps drive targeted visitors to your site
Creating The XML File
The format of an RSS file is very simple.
At its most basic it contains (within the main tags) a , a and a tag followed by a series of tags.
Each tag, representing a unique news or data article, contains at least 3 other tags - one each for the article's title, a link to the article and a description of the article.
Generating the RSS file is simply a case of extracting the relevant data from the database, building it up to match the template above and saving the resulting file on the server. Any of the popular scripting languages can be used for this process.
You can't comfortably read the contents of a feed by looking at the raw file in a browser. To do that you need a news aggregator program.
Aggregators let you include all your favourite feeds so that you end up with a page containing only content that interests you - headlines, quote of the day, weather, stocks, interest rates - you name it.
Popular aggregators include FeedDemon (a desktop application) and Bloglines (web-based). My MSN, My Yahoo! and Google accounts all come with news aggregation facilities.
Our main reason for building the feed was to benefit our current members. But by syndicating the feed on the many RSS syndication sites we will be able attract many other visitors who would not otherwise have known about our site.
Any content which is frequently updated and which can be packaged into separate items is suitable for creating an RSS feed. Hopefully this article will give other webmasters ideas for feeds to benefit their users and the wider Internet community.
Import-Export-Guide.com is an independent company that provides information and solutions for importers, exporters, trading companies, trading consultants and others involved in international trade. For more information and to register on the trade portal visit www.import-export-guide.com/trade.