Website content syndication has been around for a while in the form of RSS, or "Really Simple Syndication." If you want to know more about RSS, you can either ask the source of all knowledge (search for "RSS"), or read about it at Wikipedia. For the sake of brevity, I will only discuss how to use Joomla!'s Syndicate component and third-party RSS services, and I will try to provide a list of other RSS components for Joomla!
NOTE: This "How-to" only applies to Joomla! 1.0. It does not apply to Joomla! 1.5.
RSS in Joomla! 1.0.x
Most of this article will discuss RSS in Joomla! 1.0.x. To syndicate your content in Joomla!, you need to know about two core extensions: com_syndicate and mod_rssfeed.
The component that generates the RSS feeds for your website is called com_syndicate. You can configure your syndication settings by clicking "Components->Syndicate" in your Joomla! administrator panel.
On the next screen, you will see a list of parameters that you can set for your content syndication. Here is a list of the parameters, along with a description of what each does.
Once you have set your parameters in com_syndicate, it is time to set up mod_rssfeed.
The module for content syndication is mod_rssfeed. This module displays a link to your feed in your choice of 5 different formats: RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom, and OPML. You can choose any combination of the 5 formats to display. I usually just pick one, and I'll explain why in a later section.
Before you use mod_rssfeed, you will need to configure it. Here's how you do it:
Once you have set your mod_rssfeed parameters, you will want to publish it to a module position of your choice. If you have done this successfully, you now have a published syndication feed for your website. Be sure and go to your home page, and make sure that your Syndicate module is published and visible to your site's visitors.
Drawback in com_syndicate for Joomla! 1.0.x
The biggest drawback for com_syndicate in Joomla! 1.0.x is that it only syndicates items published to the frontpage. If you wanted to have separate feeds for separate categories, you could not do that with the core syndication component.
The good news is, there are options around this drawback. Joomla! is a highly extensible application, which means you can either create your own syndication component or use one of the third-party syndication components available for Joomla! Click here for a list of RSS extensions for Joomla! in the Extensions Directory. You want to get a syndication extension and not an RSS reader extension.
More good news: Joomla! 1.5
With Joomla! 1.5, the syndication functionality has gotten a much-needed overhaul. You can syndicate content for any section or category you want, and you can even syndicate content from there components. For example, you could provide an RSS feed of the contacts in your contacts component.
When I have had more time to play with it and understand it, I will post another article on how to use the syndication functionality in Joomla! 1.5.
The syndication component is pretty limited in what it can do for you as a webmaster. Luckily, there are several feed services available the provided extended functionality for your RSS feed. For HowToJoomla!, I am using a service called FeedBurner. With this service, I have several tools at my disposal. Among other things, I can track the number of subscribers to my RSS feed, and I can give visitors the option to receive automatic e-mail updates when my RSS feed is updated. Pretty cool, huh?
I mentioned earlier that I typically only use one of the feed choices (RSS 2.0) available in com_syndicate. That is because FeedBurner only needs one link to your feed, and the format you use is really not that important if you are using FeedBurner.
Here's how you use FeedBurner:
Another benefit to using a service like FeedBurner is that you can change the location of your RSS feed (for example, if you decide to use a third-party syndication extension), and your visitors will not have to re-subscribe to your feed. You would just need to change your link information through your FeedBurner account. Your visitors will never know the difference, because the link they see (http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeedname) stays the same.
Once you make sure that your FeedBurner link module is displaying on the front end just like you want it, you are now set. Your visitors can now subscribe to your RSS feed via Feedburner.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Thanks to Craig Watkins from IllustratorTips.com for suggesting RSS feeds in Joomla! as a "How To" topic. If there is a feature of Joomla! that you would like for me to discuss, please feel free to contact me and suggest the topic.
As always, please feel free to post any questions or comments.