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Software Review: RSS Replay 1.0.1

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Adobe (formally Macromedia) Dreamweaver is a very powerful platform to build web sites and web based applications. One of the benefits of using Dreamweaver is the extensibility of the application itself, and the community of programmers who write extensions for the it.

These extensions do a lot of things, one of which is make life a little easier. Sometimes they cost money, sometimes not. RSS Replay, by RNSoft, is a commercial Dreamweaver extension that easily allows you to integrate RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds into web pages — with only a few clicks. Dreamweaver MX, MX 2004, and 8 are supported.

RSS Replay installs a small AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) application that is configurable with the Dreamweaver Properties palette. Depending on how your web server is configured, RSS Replay can use PHP, ASP, or just JavaScript.

If you are displaying RSS feeds from external sites, you will need to use the PHP or ASP methods, but as most web sites support one or both of these options, this should not be a problem for you.

You can also define CSS classes for headline and story body sections of the feed, this makes it easy to integrate the feed into the existing look and feel of your site. RSS Replay comes with many formats to display RSS feeds, such as bulleted lists, podcast entries, and photocast thumbnails.

There is also a "Custom" dialog to create your own format for displaying RSS content to your liking. Other options include setting how many headlines to show, and advanced settings such as TTL (Time To Live).

One of the more unique options adds the ability to combine multiple feeds into one listing.

Since this is Dreamweaver, adding RSS Replay does not take a lot of work. After inserting the RSS Replay object, you add a source feed, select the display format, how many stories to show, and the method (JavaScript, ASP or PHP). That may sound long and involved to you, but explaining it takes longer than making it happen.

There are any number of other solutions for integrating RSS into your web site, even written for Dreamweaver, but most of the time they are a lot harder to work with, or cost more.

I found a bug while testing this software, and the developer, Ronald Northrip, had a fix for that in a matter of hours. This issue and others were addressed in the quick-to-be-released 1.0.1 version of the software.

RSS Replay comes with three price points, each depending on how many sites you will be using it with. Pricing starts at $29 for the Single Website Edition, $39 for the 5 Website Edition, and $59 for the Unlimited Edition.

The price might be a little high for some, but you are paying for the ease of use, and a custom XML parser that has worked in every (current) web browser I have tested it with.

The script used also degrades gracefully for non-supported browsers. The only major downside is the reliance on JavaScript. There are a small percentage of people that browse without JavaScript. But you will always find someone who is not using basic web technologies — that is just the nature of the beast.

Ron has recently added a tutorial detailing RSS Replay. This tutorial, and the documentation are more than you usually find for these types of extensions. Both contain a good bit of information, and bring you up to speed quickly.

At the risk of some self-promotion, I have put together a real-world example using RSS Replay at my home blog to show how it works. This took only minutes to add, and is one of the reasons it is easy to recommend this Dreamweaver extension.

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About Ken Edwards

  • Version 1.1 has just been released, with a number of improvements.

  • 1.1.1 is now out.