google-docs-rss-reader

This tutorial shows how to use a Google Docs spreadsheet as an RSS Feed reader (see example). You can aggregate news feeds from different sources into one spreadsheet (similar to alltop, popurls or addictomatic) and then publish it as a web page.

If you have a blog, you can use the same trick to embed RSS feeds in web pages. The Google Docs approach is preferred over Flash or Javascript widgets because here you have complete control over the presentation layout and formatting of content.

So before we get started, let’s look at a real example. The following Google Docs snippet shows live feed data from some top technology blogs.

Here are the complete step involved for putting RSS feeds into Google Docs. We use a single feed in the example but you can extend the idea for any number of feeds.

1. Open a new spreadsheets and type the URL of any web feed in cell, say A1.

2. In cell A2, type =ImportFeed(A1, “Items Title”, FALSE, 10) – This will fill column A with the titles of the latest 10 stories in that feed.

google-feeds-spreadsheet

3. In cell B2, type =ImportFeed(A1, “Items URL”, FALSE, 10) – This will fill column B with the URL (permalink) of the corresponding stories in column A.

4. In cell C2, type HyperLink(B2, A2) – This will combine the title and URL to make a clickable link that will be available when you publish the sheet as a web page.

5. Copy paste the contents of cell C2 in C3 until C11.

You can experiment with different fonts, colors, sizes, etc. Now go to Publish – > More publishing options, type C2:C13 in the range and get the HTML embed code.

Google Docs will automatically refresh content when the underlying RSS feeds are changed. Here’s a quick walkthrough in video:

If you enjoyed reading this, you may like to know about tracking Google Docs visitors or how to compare text files with Google Docs.