Parsing RSS feeds in ruby

One of the great benefits of open source is that for some of the problems you encounter, someone probably already solved it for you.

For a project I needed a simple way to parse an RSS feed. If you look around, you’ll find plenty of libraries that designed to tackle this problem.

But taking a closer look at them revealed that most of these libraries have a lot of external dependencies and most offered features weren’t needed. Heck, I just want to parse a feed.

Ruby standard library

What might come in as a surprise is that ruby comes with its own RSS library.

I haven’t looked at all the features, but it seems pretty complete, offering parsing for RSS, Atom and even Itunes Channel XML.

You can parse and iterate a feed like this:

require 'rss'

rss = RSS::Parser.parse('', false)
rss.items.each do |item|
  puts "#{item.pubDate} - #{item.title}"

Keep in mind that the available data can be different between an RSS and Atom feed. If you don’t know which type your are parsing, try checking the .feed_type:

require 'rss'

rss = RSS::Parser.parse('', false)

case rss.feed_type
  when 'rss'
    rss.items.each { |item| puts item.title }
  when 'atom'
    rss.items.each { |item| puts item.title.content }

The above is just a very basic example, but you get the idea. So why use a 3rd party library when you can do the same with functionality provided from the ruby standard library.