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A simple PHP RSS feed reader

what is RSS?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication", which is a mechanism for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites.

RSS feed is a XML file describing a web site content. It looks like following:

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<rss version="2.0">

<title>My web site root</title>
<description>This is my site root</description>
<title>My page 1 </title>
<description>Page 1 provides a lot of services:...blah blah</description>
<title>My page 2 </title>
<description>Page 2 provides other services:...blah blah</description>

The keywords highlighted in blue are required by RSS feed format. The first 5 lines usually describes your web site root. Then each page in your web site listed in <item></item> tag.

Why need RSS feed reader ?

In order to add dynamic content to your web site and make your web site updated everyday, RSS feed reader is a shortcut to meet this goal. RSS feed reader will take the content from other quickly updating web site, like CNN news, to your web site.

Search Engine Optimization

RSS feed reader is another approach to complement search engine optimization (SEO) for your web site since search engines like new content and tend to rank updating web site higher.

PHP RSS feed reader

The following code is the simple PHP rss feed reader. You may put this code inside any web page(.php) to add dynamic content to it.

The code is configurable. See the 2 lines highlighted in blue? $file takes the URL of the web site rss feed you want insert. $TOTALITEM_WANTED set how many items(links) you want to show in your page. You just need change these two parameters and then copy /paste the whole code to your web page. OK. Coffee time.



$file = "http://www.some-other-site/rss.xml";
$TOTALITEM_WANTED=5; //any number of links

$rss_channel = array();
$currently_writing = "";
$main = "";
$item_counter = 0;

function startElement($parser, $name, $attrs) {
global $rss_channel, $currently_writing, $main;
switch($name) {
case "RSS":
case "RDF:RDF":
case "ITEMS":
$currently_writing = "";
case "CHANNEL":
$main = "CHANNEL";
case "IMAGE":
$main = "IMAGE";
$rss_channel["IMAGE"] = array();
case "ITEM":
$main = "ITEMS";
$currently_writing = $name;

function endElement($parser, $name) {
global $rss_channel, $currently_writing, $item_counter;
$currently_writing = "";
if ($name == "ITEM") {

function characterData($parser, $data) {
global $rss_channel, $currently_writing, $main, $item_counter;
if ($currently_writing != "") {
switch($main) {
case "CHANNEL":
if (isset($rss_channel[$currently_writing])) {
$rss_channel[$currently_writing] .= $data;
} else {
$rss_channel[$currently_writing] = $data;
case "IMAGE":
if (isset($rss_channel[$main][$currently_writing])) {
$rss_channel[$main][$currently_writing] .= $data;
} else {
$rss_channel[$main][$currently_writing] = $data;
case "ITEMS":
if (isset($rss_channel[$main][$item_counter][$currently_writing])) {
$rss_channel[$main][$item_counter][$currently_writing] .= $data;
} else {
$rss_channel[$main][$item_counter][$currently_writing] = $data;

$xml_parser = xml_parser_create();
xml_set_element_handler($xml_parser, "startElement", "endElement");
xml_set_character_data_handler($xml_parser, "characterData");
if (!($fp = fopen($file, "r"))) {
die("could not open XML input");

while ($data = fread($fp, 4096)) {
if (!xml_parse($xml_parser, $data, feof($fp))) {
die(sprintf("XML error: %s at line %d",

// output HTML
print ("<div class=\"channelname\">" . $rss_channel["TITLE"] . "</div>");

if (isset($rss_channel["ITEMS"])) {
if (count($rss_channel["ITEMS"]) > 0) {
for($i = 0;$i < $TOTALITEM_WANTED;$i++) {
if (isset($rss_channel["ITEMS"][$i]["LINK"])) {
print ("\n<div class=\"itemtitle\"><a href=\"" . $rss_channel["ITEMS"][$i]["LINK"] . "\">" . $rss_channel["ITEMS"][$i]["TITLE"] . "</a></div>");
else {
print ("\n<div class=\"itemtitle\">" . $rss_channel["ITEMS"][$i]["TITLE"] . "</div>");
print ("<div class=\"itemdescription\">" . $rss_channel["ITEMS"][$i]["DESCRIPTION"] . "</div><br />"); }
} else {
print ("<b>There are no articles in this feed.</b>");


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