BLOG: RSS Feed added

An RSS feed is an XML file describing what new articles have appeared in a blog. They used to be popular for notifying readers of new content, but that use-case has dwindled in recent years. However, they are still very useful for notifying other computers of changes, enabling a blog to become the hub for personal media automation.

I have now added an RSS feed to the site (here). The RSS feed, like the other pages of the site, is served statically. When a new article is written, the RSS.xml needs to be update too. This requires new technology for the Observable jamstack.

I drew inspiration from Fred Wilson's blog. He writes a ton but the site is quite minimal. He organizes articles by tags, allowing topics to have dedicated lists while allowing a single article to be a member of many lists. Article tags seem enough to build an RSS feed if we can search over articles using them.

Also, to display an RSS item we need a title and description and a few other metadata fields. So on top of tags, support for arbitrary fields was added. The Observable netlify-deploy library now allows previously deployed static files (the atom of static site deploys) to be queried by tags.

So the content to deploy the (RSS.xml) is reactively updated based on the result of a realtime article query. I have granted anonymous read access to the backing Firestore for my blog so those realtime queries can be viewed by anybody.

Tag query support is possible with Firestore indexes using the "array-contains" query semantic. Firestore continues to works very well as the backing store for the Observable jamstack CMS thanks to its realtime and web-based operation.