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RSS Processor for Arachne

(Turns Arachne into an RSS newsreader.)


Why:



    This is (yet another) attempt to write an RSS "Reader" for Arachne.

    Both of the two previous methods had some success, and by using both (and toggling between them) I was able to read every feed I wanted to.

    Then it all changed !   For reasons that escape me, the Country Fire Authority, and Department of Sustainability and Environment, in Victoria Australia, changed their bushfire RSS software - and suddenly (at the very start of the bushfire season) I was unable to read ANY of the incident reports, Warnings or Advice.

    And I live in a fire-vulnerable part of Victoria !

    So something had to be done.


How:



    The executable is called RONSRSS.EXE (Ron's RSS). It is accompanied by an ASCII file called RONSRSS.DAT which contains a few extra RSS tags. Note: Do not try to edit RONSRSS.DAT.

    The approach I have taken is to try, as closely as possible, to replace RSS-tags with acceptable HTM-tags, and to present the output HTM file back to Arachne.

    For simple RSS feeds this works rather well.   But not all RSS feeds are simple !

    The specification of RSS is not actually a standard. At it's simplest, it is a small sub-set of XHTML, and the most used version of that is the set published by Harvard Law. But there seems to have been a proliferation of "click 'n' drool" RSS generators, and each seems to have gone it's own way. Not only have some RSS generators incorporated more and more XML tags, but are also inserting actual BAD tags. This was the case with the RSS for the bushfire RSS feeds, and it has caused me to include some very specific error corrections to deal with it.

    Add to that, some RSS generators produce feeds that are one continuous line without CR or LF characters anywhere. (e.g. BBC) This, of course, is a problem for DOS where there is a size limit of 255 characters that can be held in any one string variable.
    To get around this, the incoming RSS feed is passed to FOLD.EXE to "fold" long lines before RONSRSS.EXE can process it.

    This has its own shortcomings, because FOLD.EXE sometimes puts a CR/LF inside a tag. When this happens, the "translation" may fail, and leave broken bits of tags for Arachne to deal with. The results of such incidents may include "dead" links, and "live" links behind unrelated bits of text.

    Often this can be corrected by editing the FOLD settings in the MIME.CFG lines.
The APM default setting creates a "fold" at 220 characters. If you are seeing odd effects, try changing "-220" to "-200" or even "-180" and see if that helps.


    YMMV !

    Special Note: This is for RSS feeds.   It is NOT suitable for ATOM feeds !


What:



Screenshot

A screen shot of a Slashdot RSS feed
(Yes, Virginia, it does images as well - sometimes.)



Where:



    This is still very much a work in progress (152 RSS tags, and error corrections, processed so far) but you can get an APM for Arachne here (6th May 2013).

    The very existance of an APM is due to the efforts of Glenn McCorkle, without whose help and advice this would not have been at all useable with Arachne.

    The latest individual files are not available at the present time. The current version is v1.7, which has some real changes from what was before, and just replacing individual files will really mess things up. It is recommended that you simply install the new version, which will overwrite the previous one.


    It can also be used by other DOS browsers, such as Links.


Contacts:



For:     RONSRSS       Ron Clarke
For:     APM-related    Glenn McCorkle


RSS Feeds to try:


    Slashdot
    BBC News
    Reuters Internet News
    CBS News (SciTech)



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