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RSS Feed Link Reader

, 5 Jun 2008
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This article discusses the construction of a simple application that may be used to view RSS feeds from the desktop.

Introduction

This article discusses the construction of a simple application that may be used to view RSS feeds from the desktop. The application allows the user to select a canned RSS feed or to key one. The RSS feed is opened and the article title and link nodes from the feed are placed into a treeview control; each title becomes the parent of the related link.

Figure 1: Application in Use.

The title of the article occupies the parent node with the link node placed as the child of each title node. If the user clicks on any of the link nodes, the article associated with the title will be opened into a Web browser control.

Figure 2: Canned RSS Feeds in drop down, current RSS feed on left side.

The intent of the application was to provide a simple tool that may be used to organize and read RSS postings. The titles and links are recovered from the XML returned from the RSS service.

Getting Started

In order to get started, unzip the included project and open the solution in the Visual Studio 2008 environment. In the solution explorer, you should note these files:

Figure 3: Solution Explorer.

As you can see, the project is a WinForms application containing only a single form. The form itself contains a toolstrip control docked to the top with a textbox used for entering RSS feed locations, a button control to open the RSS feed, and a combobox containing a collection of RSS feeds which may be directly opened. The left hand side of the form contains a treeview control used to display the RSS feed titles and links; the right hand side contains a Web browser control which is used to display the linked page.

The Main Form (frmRss.cs)

The main form is used to open the selected RSS feed as an XML document and to display them in TreeView format; the form also places the story link as a child node to each title node.

If you'd care to open the code view up in the IDE, you will see that the code file begins as follows:

using System;
using System.Collections;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Text;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.Xml;
using System.Xml.XPath;

Note that the additions of the System.Xml and System.Xml.XPath libraries are the only actual departure from the default.

Following the imports, the class is defined and a constructor added. A local string variable is declared and used to hold the RSS feed URL. Within the constructor, the string variable used to point to the location of the RSS feed is zeroized as an empty string.

namespace RSSFeedSpeedReader
{
    public partial class frmRss : Form
    {
        // the current path to an RSS feed
        string mRssUrl;

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
        /// Constructor
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
        public frmRss()
        {
            InitializeComponent();

            // zeroize RSS feed line
            mRssUrl = string.Empty;
        }

Next up is the click event handler for the RSS Go button located on the form’s toolstrip control. Within this click event handler, the code is placed to query for only the RSS feed item title and link. These two values are loaded into the treeview and make it possible for users to read the article title and then open the link into the Web browser control to read it if they are interested in getting more information on the topic. This section of code is annotated and should be easy enough to follow using the comments:

/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
/// Open up an RSS Feed into the treeview control
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="sender"></param></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="e"></param></span>
private void tsRssGo_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    try
    {
        // set the file path member var
        mRssUrl = this.tsRssLocation.Text;

        // Clear the treeview.
        tvwRss.Nodes.Clear();

        // set the wait cursor
        this.Cursor = Cursors.WaitCursor;

        // create a new XML doc
        XmlDocument doc = new XmlDocument();

        try
        {
            // load the XML doc
            doc.Load(mRssUrl);

            // return the cursor
            this.Cursor = Cursors.Default;
        }
        catch (Exception ex1)
        {
            // return the cursor
            this.Cursor = Cursors.Default;

            // tell a story
            MessageBox.Show(ex1.Message);
            return;
        }

        // get an XPATH navigator
        XPathNavigator navigator = doc.CreateNavigator();

        try
        {
            // look for the path to the RSS item titles; navigate
            // through the nodes to get all titles
            XPathNodeIterator nodes =
                navigator.Select("//rss/channel/item/title");
            while (nodes.MoveNext())
            {
                // clean up the text for display
                XPathNavigator node = nodes.Current;
                string tmp = node.Value.Trim();
                tmp = tmp.Replace("\n", "");
                tmp = tmp.Replace("\r", "");

                // add a new treeview node for this
                // news item title
                tvwRss.Nodes.Add(tmp);
            }

            // set a position counter
            int position = 0;

            // Get the links from the RSS feed
            XPathNodeIterator nodesLink =
                navigator.Select("//rss/channel/item/link");
            while (nodesLink.MoveNext())
            {
                // clean up the link
                XPathNavigator node = nodesLink.Current;
                string tmp = node.Value.Trim();
                tmp = tmp.Replace("\n", "");
                tmp = tmp.Replace("\r", "");

                // use the position counter
                // to add a link child node
                // to each news item title
                tvwRss.Nodes[position].Nodes.Add(tmp);

                // increment the position counter
                position++;
            }
        }
        catch (Exception ex)
        {
            MessageBox.Show(ex.Message, "RSS Feed Load Error");
        }

        // restore the cursor
        this.Cursor = Cursors.Default;
    }
    catch (Exception ex2)
    {
        // snitch
        MessageBox.Show(ex2.ToString(), "RSS Feed Initialization Failure");
    }
}

The next section of code is used to load the link content into the Web browser control. This is accomplished using the AfterSelect event from the treeview control. When this event fires, the code merely examines the link text and, if it starts with http, the function makes an attempt to load the link into the Web browser control occupying the right hand panel in the main form.

/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
/// Use the after select event to open the link
/// into the Web browser control
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="sender"></param></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="e"></param></span>
private void tvwRss_AfterSelect(object sender, TreeViewEventArgs e)
{
    try
    {
        // get the first four characters from the link
        string tmp = tvwRss.SelectedNode.Text.Substring(0, 4);

        // test the link text and then
        // navigate the browser to that link
        if (tmp == "http")
            webBrowser1.Navigate(tvwRss.SelectedNode.Text);
    }
    catch
    {
        // if it is not a link, skip it
    }
}

The last method in the class is the handler for the canned feeds combobox selected index changed event; in this code, when the user selects a canned feed from the drop down list, that link is loaded into the toolstrip’s RSS Location textbox control and the toolstrip control’s RSS Go button’s click event is fired. That button click event handler will clear the treeview control and reload it with the information captured from the replacement RSS feed.

/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
/// If the user selects a canned RSS feed from the drop down,
/// load the text into the toolstrip RSS location textbox and
/// then use the tsRssGo_Click event to launch the
/// page into the browser
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="sender"></param></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="e"></param></span>
private void tsCboFeeds_SelectedIndexChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    tsRssLocation.Text = tsCboFeeds.SelectedItem.ToString();
    tsRssGo_Click(this, new EventArgs());
}

Summary

This application demonstrates a simple way of building an RSS Feed reader through the manipulation of the RSS Feed’s XML. This is a little different than most of the RSS Feeder reader’s I have encountered in that it does not attempt to provide the standard set of information returned from the feed in a listbox or similar control; rather this approach only displays the headlines and provides the links to the main story using the treeview control and a Web browser control; in that the user can scan the headlines and then pop open the link directly to display the main story in a Web browser control. Of course you can pull additional information from the feed and display it using other added controls; the approach is certainly something that can be expanded upon; however this does provide a clean and simple interface to the RSS Feeds main points of information.

History

  • 3rd June, 2008: Initial version

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

salysle
Software Developer (Senior)
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberMazen el Senih1-Nov-12 8:08 
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