Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Blog Site Feed Fun

Today I decided to take a short break after the battle with the fax machine to see if I could address a problem several of my Fox Friends have found with the site feed from this blog. The site feed provided by Blogger is called Atom.xml and is automatically generated/updated each time I post a blog entry. I had no idea how to fix it, and until my friends noted they had a problem I did not know it was even an issue. You see, I am a huge fan of FeedDemon and it read the Atom.xml feed and established the channel just fine.

Back in March Randy Jean told me he could not get his wiki to syndicate the feed. Craig Berntson and Andrew MacNeill soon followed with emails telling me how Newsgator was choking on the feed. Randy hinted I check out FeedValidator, which I did and sure enough it failed. It was not clear why it was failing. Periodic checks showed success, and later some failures, and then success again. The trouble with tracking down any bug is finding the reproducible steps.

Today I decided to take some advice Andrew provided and looked into FeedBurner. Direct from the FeedBurner Web site:

'FeedBurner is an RSS/Atom post-processing service that allows publishers to enhance their feeds in a variety of interesting and powerful ways. By republishing their feeds through FeedBurner, publishers gain detailed feed statistics, maximum feed format compatibility, "shockproofing" to absorb bandwidth spikes, and more.'

When I entered in the Blogger site feed, FeedBurner choked. What it also did was tell me it was choking on a tag. So I downloaded the Atom.xml file from my site and searched for the tag. Sure enough it was in the HTML content of several blog entries. Well how the heck did that happen?

I typically use Microsoft Word to write my post so I can spell check and use the rudimentary grammar checks it provides. I then paste in the text to a blog entry using the Blogger Web interface. What I did not realize until today was that I get a bunch of HTML garbage for the ride. Blogger has two sides to the editor, Compose and HTML. I use the Compose mode, but the editor read the clipboard content Word provides and pasted in extra tags I was unaware of. It also grabbed some SmartTag tags as well any time I have the name of a city in the text. Fun.

So I have edited all the entries to remove the errant tags and posted clean enties along with the updated site feed. I also added the FeedBurner site feed which is in RSS format. Now you can subscribe to this blog no matter how your favorite aggregator perfers its feed. Both of the feeds are in the right side bar.

A big thanks to Randy, Craig and Andrew for making my blog better!


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