I’ve been mildly curious about some of the new attempts at making RSS feeds more human readable at first click- rather than seeing ugly XML code, these “new” feed displays use CSS (Style sheets) and some sort of magical transform method called XSLT — basically it means if you click a link that points to an XML file, it has some nicer formatting applied.
I want to believe.
The problem is that I think a lot of folks doing this are not widely testing, because while it has pretty formatting on a PC with MSIE, or perhaps Mozilla/Firefox on Mac or Windows, it works. I’ve seen less then stellar appearance on Safari, which I had assumed (wrongly) was one of the more standards compliant browsers. Is it a limit of Safari? Am I doomed to switching browsers?
But then I peeked at a feed from a Blogger site, on Safari, and it had the feed + CSS + XSLT cooking. So what have they done right?
For example, here is a new feed shared by Stephen Downes, a transfoemed display of the RSS feed he created for the IT form list, http://www.downes.ca/itforum.xml:
http://www.downes.ca/itforum.xml viewed in Safari
Ugly, no transform. Unreadable by humans
But it looks okay (I guess) in Mozilla:
http://www.downes.ca/itforum.xml viewed in Mozilla
Better, it has formatting
At this point, I really was chalking it up to a Safari quirk. But then, after Stephen mentioned a new blog from Albert IP, Random Walk in E-Learning, I decided to tack on the magic code to get the feed (Blogger provides Atom feeds, but sadly, stupidly, does not build the links in the standard templates- but the feeds are there, if you just tack on an
atom.xml to the URL, or in this case, http://elearningrandomwalk.blogspot.com/atom.xml:
http://elearningrandomwalk.blogspot.com/atom.xml viewed in Safari
So is it that Blogger has a better transform? Does it have something to do with Atom being the feed format from Blogger? I dunno, this is all new to me, but I am curious to dig deeper.