Secure RSS, building custom feeds, and reading feeds

3 minute read

If you haven’t read The Tipping Point, I’d highly recommend it.

While some may disagree with me, I don’t think RSS has reached it’s ‘tipping poing’ yet. While growing in popularity, RSS is still largely in the early adopter phase. I think the tipping point, or mass adoption, will really happen when Microsoft releases Office 12. You see, Outlook in Office 12 will have a built-in RSS reader.

At Telligent we are eagerly looking forward to this. We’ve been working with RSS for a long time and like to think that we’ve done some forward thinking when it comes to using RSS in our platform Community Server.

For our 2.0 release we’re doing some really great stuff with RSS. First we’re RSS enabling almost everything. While RSS support itself is not new to our platform, but there is some powerful new functionality in our 2.0 release:

  • RSS for Search Results – The new Enterprise search functionality for Community Server allows you to search across blogs, forum posts, files, photos, and any other data stored in your Community Server system. New with 2.0 is also the ability to get an RSS feed for your search results. For example, when we update to the newest version you could create a custom RSS feed that returns results only for users and topics that you care about across all 2800+ bloggers!
  • News Reader – We’ve built in an RSS reader so you can add RSS feeds and read them through a single web based interface. It does some cool stuff such as aggregating common feeds together when you click on a folder. What’s nice about this is that you could, for example, create some “favorite searches” in Community Server and watch them in your reader! Using Community Server as the proxy for RSS feeds makes a lot of sense for a lot of organizations — it can dramatically cut down the amount of bandwidth that RSS readers are using since shared feeds are pulled once instead of once per-user.
  • Secure RSS – There are lots of areas in Community Server that are considered private. For example, private forums, private blogs, private photo, or private files. These areas are secured through permissions. Previously non-public content would not expose an RSS feed. We’ve done some great work in 2.0 to allow administrators to enable secure RSS feeds. Thus a unique URL is created for each user that can access the content along with passing a username and a unique identity hash (which can be changed or invalidated per-user). Of course people can share the URL, but it provides a nice option when the reader doesn’t support passing credentials (which we support too).
  • External News – Another new capability in 2.0 is an External News page. Similar to the aggregate roll-up you can see of bloggers now, such as‘s landing page, the idea with the external news is that a site manager can add external RSS feeds that are brought in as common aggregate page. A great example: there are lots of well known Microsoft bloggers that blog at other locations, Scott Guthrie, Robert Scoble, and Don Box to name a few. The external news feature allows you to bring in those RSS feeds, but to read the content you are still directed to those ‘off-site’ blogs.

There is more, obviously, but those are some of the highlights. We’re really excited about our 2.0 release of Community Server. For us on the team it’s the product we had in mind when we set out to build Community Server. We’re starting to do the initial planning on version 3.0 now too, and it’s only going to get better! 

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