Consuming RSS feeds in an ASP.NET page

I like reading Scott Guthrie's blog. Trouble is, I get so busy, I forget to go over there and have a look to see what's new. I was searching for something the other day, and stumbled across someone else's blog (I forget whose), but I noticed that they had the 5 most recent items in Scott's blog embedded in their home page. It was only then that I discovered that Scott Mitchell has written a whole load more tutorials on Data Access, and that these have been available for a while. So I got to thinking that I should add a feed from Scott G's site onto the home page here, so I can be updated more quickly. Here's the bare bones of how I did it.

The first thing I did was to create a static method that would return a string.

public static string ProcessRSS(string rssURL, string feed)

The method takes two strings - the url of the feed and a string containing the name of the feed. Next, I use System.Net.HttpRequest to obtain the text of the feed, and load it into an in-memory XML document. RSS is after all, a form of XML.

{
  WebRequest request = WebRequest.Create(rssURL);
  WebResponse response = request.GetResponse();
  StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder("");
  Stream rssStream = response.GetResponseStream();
  XmlDocument rssDoc = new XmlDocument();
  rssDoc.Load(rssStream);

I only need part of the information in the RSS feed - the bits within the "item" element (or node), and within that, I need just the "title" and "link" elements. I use the SelectNodes() method to obtain the "item" nodes, which is then held in an XmlNodeList collection. I decided to limit the number of items in my feed to 5, so I check the Count property of the collection, and set an upper limit for my iteration loop.

  XmlNodeList rssItems = rssDoc.SelectNodes("rss/channel/item");

  string title = "";
  string link = "";
  int upperlimit = rssItems.Count;
  if (upperlimit > 5)
    upperlimit = 5;
  if (upperlimit > 0)
  {
    sb.Append("<p>" + feed + "</p><ul>");
    for (int i = 0; i < upperlimit; i++)

Now I reference the individual nodes - title and link - as XmlNode objects. These are acquired using the SelectSingleNode() method of the XmlNodeList, which takes an XPath expression as an argument. The XPath expression is the name of the node to be acquired. Once the node has been referenced, I take it's InnerText property (how similar is all this to working with the DOM in Javascript and the getElementById method?!?) and build a string, which is ultimately returned by the method.

	
    {
      XmlNode rssDetail;
      rssDetail = rssItems.Item(i).SelectSingleNode("title");
      if (rssDetail != null)
      {
         title = rssDetail.InnerText;
      }
      else
      {
        title = "";
      }

      rssDetail = rssItems.Item(i).SelectSingleNode("link");
      if (rssDetail != null)
      {
        link = rssDetail.InnerText;
      }
      else
      {
        link = "";
      } 
      sb.Append("<li><a href='" + link + "' target='_blank'>" + title + "</a></li>");
    }
    sb.Append("</ul>");
  }
return sb.ToString();
}

For each feed that I want to include on my page, all I need to do now is add a Literal control, and in code-behind, set its Text property to the string returned by the method:

Feed1.Text = ProcessRSS("http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/rss.aspx", "ScottGu");

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1 Comment

- michael Acker

Nice Example.
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