RSS Full Feed

by john on April 7, 2003

I’ve been playing with RSS a bit over the last few weeks. This is the first in a series of articles documenting some of the things I’ve run into.

I’ve moved to a full article feed instead of just the article excerpt. Once I started using an RSS aggregator I realized how nice full feeds are. The thinking behind only offering the excerpt is that you’ll drive people to your site when they get drawn in by the tease of your excerpt. What I have found though is the opposite – I tend to skip over the feeds that are serving up excerpts, and have become more interested in those with full feeds. In Excerpts or full posts in RSS, Jonathon Delacour goes into some depth on the topic. At some point I’ll look at allowing the user to choose how they view the feed, either by offering both an excerpt and a full feed, or investigating the RSS 2.0 specifications to see how I can allow the user to choose how they view the feed.

One of the challenges I faced when enabling the full feed was that I often use the Movable Type Extended Entry field, which allows me to format articles like this one where I hide a big chunk of the larger articles behind the link below (which, if you are reading from an aggregator you won’t see. How ironic.)

The problem with that though is that MT does not offer a tag that combines the Entry Body with the Extended Entry, something I would need if I was to provide full feeds. I’m sure it could be done programmatically, but far simpler is to install a plugin, in this case MT-EntryBodyMore by Timothy Appnel.

Here’s what the relevant line in my template looks like:

<description><MTMacroApply><$MTEntryBodyMore encode_xml="1"$></MTMacroApply></description>

You can ignore the MTMacroApply tag, that is there to process my book review macros – something I still have on my agenda to write about some time.

If you are reading this in an aggregator I’d appreciate your input on full feed or excerpt.


Brian Cantoni April 8, 2003 at 10:51 am

John- I follow your site through an aggregator (a modified version of AmphetaDesk). I definitely prefer having the full entry text available in the RSS feeds. Your comments mirror my experience — with just the excerpt listed, I’m not likely to go read the full thing unless there’s a good teaser. When authors take the time to write good excerpts, it’s not too bad, but the default MT 20-word excerpt is usually not meaningful.

john April 8, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for the feedback Brian. I agree with the 20-word default being too small, and I had actually already bumped that up to 100, but even that just doesn’t do it…

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