A note to RSS subscribers

This blog has a full-text RSS feed. In other words, you can read the entire contents of a post without visiting the site – though I hope you will visit the site from time to time to read the comments, like the excellent discussion on web vs desktop applications here.

The reason for this note is that the feed broke for some subscribers recently; and the reason it broke was that I’d hacked the code to ensure that you get full text feeds and not excerpts with a “read more” link. I had hacked the code not because WordPress was broken exactly, but because of a legacy problem. The feed for this blog used to be http://www.itwriting.com/blog/rss.php. WordPress still supports this URL, but without my hack it delivers excerpts, even though WordPress is set for full text. The hack works; but it is perilous because I use Subversion to keep WordPress up-to-date. If I modify the WordPress source, and then the same file gets updated in the official source, then Subversion inserts some stuff in the file to assist in resolving the conflict. That’s fine, except that it may break the PHP until I get round to fixing it. There’s also a risk that the modified file will no longer work because of changes elsewhere.

The sane solution then is not to modify the WordPress source, but to ask you to use the modern, approved and up-to-date RSS feed URLs which are:

http://www.itwriting.com/blog/feed for RSS

and

http://www.itwriting.com/blog/feed/atom

for Atom.

If you use Google Reader, for example, I suggest you remove the existing subscription and add a new one with one of the above URLs.

That said, the old URL now works again, but with excerpts and not full text. The reason is not that I want you to visit the site, add to my page views and enjoy the unobtrusive advertising (though I do); it’s because of the technical issue above. Now you know how to fix it.

5 thoughts on “A note to RSS subscribers”

  1. Don’t worry, I read only title and two first lines in a reader to deside whether to click and visit a blog, because it is much more comfortable to read an article in a blog. For me. But I think for others too 🙂

  2. Stephane

    There are actually two RSS feeds, the default RSS 2.0 feed which has *both* description (excerpt) and content (full) elements, and the RSS 0.92 feed which only has description (this is the one that I had hacked to give full text). Is it possible that your reader is not showing the content, or are you on the 0.92 feed? Either way, I’m going to leave it be I think, because a broken feed is even worse.

    Tim

  3. Hi Tim

    What about setting a redirect within the .htaccess file, right before all wordpress rules? I think you won’t need to worry about hacking rss.php anymore. As far as I remember, the .htaccess is not in SVN so it shouldn’t be overwritten when you run svn up.

    Although probably you thought about that before and haven’t implemented because of some other constraint, but just in case … 🙂

  4. @sole

    Good suggestion – will look into it when I get a moment. Though there’s already a complex .htaccess thanks to other WordPress features.

    Tim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *