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Tips & Tutorials for Web Designers

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adding a Blogger RSS Feed to an HTML Page

This brief tutorial shows how to add your Blogger RSS Feeds to your main web site.   NOTE: For this to work, your server must support .php and server-side includes.

Locate your Blogger's RSS Feed

Type the following URL into your browser's address bar:

Replace your_blog with your actual blogger site name.  Hit enter.

As an example, this blog's RSS feed is located at:

Parsing an XML feed into HTML

You need a script to parse XML into HTML otherwise it will appear as an un-styled mess.  FeedForAll RSS Creation Tool  has a free PHP script for displaying RSS feeds in HTML pages.  Download zip: RSS2HTML

Configuration of RSS2html

Unzip the folder.  Open the rss2html-docs.txt file in Dreamweaver or your favorite plain text editor and read the instructions.  Actually it's very simple to implement by modifying a few lines of code in the rss2html.php file:

Tell the script where to find your RSS Feed:

 $XMLfilename = "";

Tell the script where to find your RSS Template on your web site (not blogger):

$TEMPLATEfilename = "";

Tell the script how many feed items to display in your HTML page.

The default value is 1000.  I personally prefer 5 or possibly 10 items max.

$FeedMaxItems = 10000;

Tell your script how many characters to display from your blog post.

The default value of 0 includes everything.  150 is a nice number.

$limitItemDescriptionLength = 150;

The rest of the items are optional. Adjust them at will.  Save rss2html script with a .php extension and upload to your site.

Style your RSS template

Open the sample-template.html page.  Replace everything in code view with the following snippet of HTML code.

<p>~~~ItemPubShortDate~~~ ~~~ItemPubShortTime~~~</p>
<p><a href="~~~ItemLink~~~">~~~ItemTitle~~~</a></p>

Save sample-template.html and upload to your server.

Finally, open your main web site's home page (or whichever page you want the your blogger feed to appear on).  Scroll down to where you want it to display and insert a Server-Side Include pointing to the rss2html.php script.

<!--#include file="rss2html/rss2html.php" -->

For this to work, you'll need to save your index.html page with a .php or .shtml extension. This is necessary to parse includes on the server.   Delete old index.html page from server.

Go to your remote site and preview in browsers.   That's all there is to it.
We hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Continuously Playing Music on Websites

People often ask this in forums and message boards.  "How to build an HTML site with music that plays continuously?"

Unfortunately, this isn't a simple thing. You have the following options, each with their own set of problems.

OPTION #1 - Embed an MP3 player on a plain vanilla page. Invoke it to open in a Pop-Up window from a link on your home page.   The player will remain open while people explore other site pages or until they close the pop-up window or leave your site.  NOTE:  The user must initiate the pop-up window. If you attempt to open a pop-up automatically on page load, it will be defeated by pop-up blockers (98% of browsers).

OPTION #2 - Put your player into a frameset.  NOTE: Framed sites pose many other problems as detailed below.

OPTION #3 - Build your entire site with Flash.  NOTE: Flash sites are not SEO & user friendly. Also Flash isn't supported by many web devices, most notably Apple's iDevices.

OPTION #4 - Build your entire site on one very large page
Depending on content and page size, this could delay your page load quite a bit.

OPTION #5 - Forget about continuous playing music/sound.  Simply embed your media player on the first page and allow people hear it once.