Linking RSS headline to content page

I am new to the RSS world. However, I am an experienced PHP and MySQL programmer and have tested adding an RSS feed to a site, so the technology is no problem. What I don’t understand is the best way create and store the content that each RSS headline links to.

For example, I notice sites like CNN have headlines that link to separate pages within complex directory structures that appear to be dynamically created. How might they create the pages and their content? Do they have a web designer typing them in? Might they have a template and then someone else types in some content? Could pages be created dynamically based on content within the original RSS feed?

I was just wondering the best way to do this. I’m sure clients won’t want to be beholden to their webmaster every time they want to have their RSS headlines link to some separate and ever-changing content.

Thanks very much for any insights!


The RSS feed is produced by the same CMS that manages the webpages. They’re just two different output formats.

What difference is there between a homepage that lists the latest articles in a site, and an RSS feed that lists the latest articles in a site? One’s an HTML template and the other’s an XML template, but all the backend code to produce those lists is identical.

Thanks for the reply, but I’m afraid it wasn’t very helpful.

What I really want to know is how people approach the solution. For example, do they put the entire content of the article in the RSS feed, or do they create that separately and just have the link? Do they create the content pages dynamically, or is it better to create them by hand?

Different developers probably select different approaches for a variety of reasons and I’m interested in hearing them in detail if possible.

Sorry! I guess I misunderstood.

Some do it one way and some do it the other. It’s a personal preference. Millions of blogs provide full content feeds and millions of others only provide excerpts. A lot of major news sites only provide excerpts because their goal is to get you to the site to view ads. Blogs that are more interested in growing their circulation are more likely to include the full content, rather than lose those who wouldn’t read and subscribe if they had to click through.

The vast majority of content sites created in the past few years, especially among the top few thousand sites on the web, are backed by some type of CMS, whether prebuilt or custom made. If you look only at sites with RSS feeds, probably less than 1% are separate static files, as they’d have to maintain the RSS feed as a static file as well… and those with the technical skills to be handwriting XML documents are probably going to install a CMS instead.

Thanks so much for the better explanation. I don’t know a thing about CMS. I’ve always worked in complete isolation so sometimes I miss entire trends that I ought to know more about. I did a quick search on CMS software for PHP and the choices are overwhelming. Do you have a favorite lightweight one that I might consider? I develop in WinXP but my host, Lunarpages, is Linux. Open source would be great, since now I’m only experimenting.

Maybe once I know more about CMS’s the answers to the rest of my questions may become more evident.

Thanks again!


When I need a lightweight CMS I use WordPress. It started out as a blogging platform but has grown to the point that it’s just as good at running a whole website (with or without a blog) yet is easy to use and extendable through plugins.