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09/02/2008

New news

I’ve been having a bit of a play. You may notice a new page tab for “Housing News Feeds” above. This has the RSS feeds of various housing related sites and blogs, so they will be constantly updated with any new items. Hopefully, it will be worth checking whenever you stop by.

The problem is that so few sites actually have RSS feeds for their news pages. I’ve done what I can with various tools that try to turn fixed web pages into RSS feeds, with limited success.

Remarkably, the Communities.gov.uk site is very well provided with news feeds and Inside Housing has one. But other organisations, like Shelter, don’t have a feed, even on their ‘latest news’ page. I haven’t been able to scrape Shelter’s news page with any success. Somewhat perversely, the Shelter Chief Exec has a blog with RSS feed, so I’ve included that. After considerable trial and error, I’ve managed to successfully scrape Shelter’s news page into a feed.

Chambers often provide updates, but none of these that I could find have feeds either, and in the case of Garden Court, once again I can’t successfully turn it into a feed it was tricky to turn it into a working feed. Arden Chambers ‘eflashes’ list turns into a feed- but the links are to PDFs.

Come on, people. RSS is hardly bleeding edge any more, and just think how effective it would be to have your news releases and briefings instantly circulated to subscribers and further disseminated by helpful elves like me.

This is a work in progress, so any helpful suggestions welcome. When I have some more time, I’ll have a further go at the CSS styling of the lists and layout, which has room for improvement.

Later on. I’ve changed the page scraper for Arden Chambers and other pages, because Feedity was adding adverts. Naughty, they don’t tell you about that. Unfortunately the result for the Arden Chambers feed is not picking up each single entry. I blame their downright erratic html. The css styling is going to be even more tricky now, dammit. I’ll also see if I can remove the branding of a particular page scraper. Branding removal from the page scraper is now done.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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