Getting up to date news the RSS way...

Getting up to date news the RSS way...

Technology, that fast moving train of innovation and improvement, always pushing forward to give us more of what we want..

Actually, some of the most used technologies today are in IT terms ancient. Email was "invented" around 1978 and is still the primary platform for written communication no matter how much Slack and Teams wish it wasn't :-)

SMS was invented in 1992, SQL 1979, Wifi 1997

And back on March 15, 1999 the RSS feed was invented...

According to Wikipedia (Jan 15, 2001) this is RSS

RSS (RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication)[2] is a web feed[3] that allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format. Subscribing to RSS feeds can allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news aggregator, which constantly monitor sites for new content, removing the need for the user to manually check them. News aggregators (or "RSS readers") can be built into a browser, installed on a desktop computer, or installed on a mobile device.
Websites usually use RSS feeds to publish frequently updated information, such as blog entries, news headlines, episodes of audio and video series, or for distributing podcasts. An RSS document (called "feed", "web feed",[4] or "channel") includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author's name. RSS formats are specified using a generic XML file.
Although RSS formats have evolved from as early as March 1999,[5] it was between 2005 and 2006 when RSS gained widespread use, and the ("
") icon was decided upon by several major Web browsers.[6] RSS feed data is presented to users using software called a news aggregator and the passing of content is called web syndication. Users subscribe to feeds either by entering a feed's URI into the reader or by clicking on the browser's feed icon. The RSS reader checks the user's feeds regularly for new information and can automatically download it, if that function is enabled.
RSS - Wikipedia

Why the history lesson? The only real reason was to show how even though the technology is old, it still has value.

The ask

My wife and I watch a lot of Youtube on the Google TV Dongle however subscriptions on YouTube are terrible in my personal opinion. I end up with a list of things some of which I'm interested in regularly and some occasionally.

What I'd like was a notification (other than the annoying youtube bell) where I could via an App see when content had been updated to only some of the subscriptions I follow.

In a perfect world, I'd like these to show up in Plex that however is another story.

The Answer

Well, I kind of have an answer, for now, it's not perfect what it did allow me to do is take a journey into learning some things about RSS and some useful tools which might be of use to others.


FreshRSS, a free, self-hostable aggregator…

The first thing to get working was a centralised place to pull RSS feeds into, and there are a few good products out there for that. I ended up using FreshRSS for its simplicity of setup.

I pulled down the Docker image from linuxserver/freshrss

Docker Hub

and ran the following Docker CLI Command

docker run -d \
--name=freshrss \
-e PUID=1000 \
-e PGID=1000 \
-e TZ=Europe/London \
-p 80:80 \
-v /path/to/data:/config \
--restart unless-stopped \

Changing the line

-v /path/to/data:/config \

So it pointed to an actual location not /path/to/data

As the container is mapped to port 80 open

http://the ip or dns of the server

This will open a quick setup page where you can setup the first user and login

This is true Blue Peter (16 October 1958) style "here's one I prepared earlier" and the key to this is Subscription Management

This will provide the interface for adding both categories and importing feeds

Where you can go as granular or not with your setup.

Some other things under Administration worth enabling are.

Under settings (Cog top right) Administration -> Authentication tick allow API Access

And Enable API Password under Settings configuration profile.

There are plenty of other options to dig around with such as changing the name of the blog, changing the theme etc.

One thing I did need to do was change the URL the software was seeing, originally it was displaying HTTP//nat ip/api etc as the server address.

Open the FreshRSS Config file in wherever you set the docker data mount point

nano freshrss/www/freshrss/data/config.php

Change the line to the URL you'd like to access FreshRSS on

'base_url' => 'https://your.public.DNS'

Save and restart the docker container

Adding YouTube subscriptions as RSS

So my original task was to turn the Youtube (14 February 2005) Subscription URLs into RSS Feeds.

FreshRSS has this built into the software

Let's use my TED Subscription as an Example

The URL is

I've created a Catagory called

YouTube - Informative

In Subscription Management -> Add a feed or category

I add the TED URL and select the category and FreshRSS Does the hard work

Click on Submit and the Channel is added to the correct catagory

Open Up the main feed page and I can see a list of Youtube Videos

Click on a video and the extended data from the video is displayed

Click on the Disk icon and the Youtube player will open.

All other RSS feeds are added the same way.

Focus Reader

While this is all nice when you're using a desktop, I find myself wanting to do this on my Android (23 September 2008) device there are a few RSS readers which support FreshRSS specifically

I ended up using Focus reader as it's the one that suits my needs best.

And this is how I tracked my Youtube subscriptions daily.

Going the Extra Mile

I then had a thought, I've been trying to pump as much data as I can into a single point, Discord (2015) which I covered here.

I've got Jenkins output, chats, logs, downloads etc all using discord as my what's going on with my automation hub. So how do I get an RSS feed from my FreshRSS server into discord?


MonitoRSS Bot

Under Construction
Get news and notifications delivered from anywhere that supports RSS, whether it’s Reddit, Youtube, or your favorite traditional news outlet. This site is currently under construction.

So the answer seems to be to invitee the MonitorRSS bot into your Discord server

Select your server

Create a Channel

Head back to your FreshRSS install

Find the feed you want to add to Discord (We will use the one we just setup)

Click on the RSS Logo

This will generate a URL and a page that looks like this

Copy the URL

Head back to the Discord Channel and type

rss.add <feed url>

Wait 5 minutes and your RSS feed will start appearing in Discord


This doesn't solve the problem, I still want to get my subscriptions into Plex from some youtube channels. Until then, this is a pretty neat self-hosted solution for not just YouTube RSS but any RSS feed.

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