Make Your Own RSS Superfeed

Bryan Helmig
Bryan Helmig
March 20, 2013

After Google announced the shutdown of Reader, the RSS ecosystem was thrown into sudden turbulence as hundreds of thousands of users sought alternatives. Since we're avid RSS'ers as well as hackers, we've always kind of rolled our own. So in this post, we thought it would be fun to demonstrate how we use Zapier with RSS.

The premise is simple: use Zapier's RSS trigger to build your own RSS superfeed. You can even sprinkle extra magic on your superfeed with filters to control which articles get through. But you don't have to stop there, you can wire SMS/email alerts and even include non-RSS sources (like GitHub commits or Evernote notes).

Let show a simple example: Say you want to intermix all the Zapier co-founder's RSS feeds into one, each focusing on the founders' expertise: Bryan on Python & Django, Mike on Coffeescript & Backbone and Wade on user acquisition and business development. The blogs and feeds we'll be referencing are:

While I've made the steps extra verbose to give a full view of our app, this actually only takes a few minutes. Let's get started!


1. Start your RSS-to-RSS Zap

This step is simple! You are just defining the broad strokes of your zap, in this case pulling items from an RSS feed and injecting them into your own.

start the zap

2. Paste the Feed URL

We'll just start with Bryan's blog, just paste in the source RSS feed URL!

let us know which feed

3. Add Any Custom Filters

This step is completely optional, but let's say you only want posts with the words "python" and "gunicorn" in the title. This is simple and flexible! Just click the Add custom filters button and define the filters to your liking. Leaving this part blank means all posts make it through.

define some custom filter

4. Map the Title, Link and Description

This is probably the trickiest step. Since you can wire pretty much any of our 180+ services together, we have a fairly open interface. Luckily, RSS-to-RSS is fairly one-to-one so you can pretty much map title-to-title, link-to-link and description-to-description. That's pretty simple.

The only unintutive field is the first: URL. This simply defines where you'd access your own personal superfeed. In this example it is this URL: https://zapier.com/engine/rss/1/zapier/. We'll reuse this later in similar zaps to "combine" RSS feeds.

setting up your rss feed

5. Test It!

If you were curious and already visited your superfeed URL, you noticed that it was empty. After you enable your zap our crawler will automatically pull new items across into your feed, but if you're impatient you can "test" it and start filling your superfeed.

Using and referencing the test step is actually really good Zapier practice, so we highly recommend it!

testing your zap

6. Name and Enable

Give your zap a good name so you can identify it quickly on your dashboard and enable it!

name and enable your zap

7. Rinse and Repeat

If you do the same thing with Wade and Mike's blog feeds, over time you'll have your own superfeed with intertwined items that match your rules and filters.

8. Access It

Most browsers and email clients have built in feed readers, so just paste your personal RSS URL in and enjoy your customized RSS feed!


Don't Stop There!

Zapier has hundreds of triggers and actions, so you can build the wildest RSS machine ever envisioned. Some great things to try:

The sky is the limit, so signup to Zapier today or explore a bunch of RSS zap templates!



References and One-Click Templates:

About the Author

Bryan Helmig is a co-founder and developer at Zapier, self-taught hacker, jazz/blues musician and fine beer and whiskey lover.

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