I’m a huge fan of RSS feeds and often use them to wire together simple mashups or power more complex web programs. Most online applications need some configuration data, such as a list of data sources, users, locations or timestamps and I don’t like to hard-code these into my programs. It’s much better to use a datastore for configuration information like this.
When building a mashup of data and services stored in the cloud, the configuration data should be stored (and edited) online too. You can collaborate with others and use delicious.com as database of URLs, as described by Jon Udell, but if you want a nice online form for your configuration data, Google Spreadsheets is the way to go.
It is easy to get data into the spreadsheet by publishing a form, but how to get an RSS feed out of the Google Spreadsheet? It’s not obvious, but Google Documents provides this functionality too. Follow these instructions to publish your spreadsheet as an RSS feed:
- Create your spreadsheet and save it, as normal
- Click the big blue “Share” button and choose “Publish as a web page”
- After publishing, the popup window will show a “Subscribe” link. This is the URL of your RSS feed
- Tick the option to automatically republish as changes are made. There is also an option to choose a specific sheet from your document
So there we have it. You can create a nice form to populate a Google Spreadsheet with data, then publish an RSS feed and use it in your mashups.
If you like RSS feeds, don’t forget to sign up to the MMMeeja RSS feed.
Creative Commons licensed photo by lumaxart.