scriptingNews format to RSS

Dave Winer from 1999:

“Compare RSS with scriptingNews format, which is richer, it includes enough information to do an elegant syndication-based search engine (coming later today). Netscape’s and Slashdot’s formats are basically equivalent, neither is as rich as our format.”

At some point Dave stopped evangelizing the scriptingNews format, but Userland tools still support it. Manila’s RSS output is actually often incomplete compared to the scriptingNews version. This annoyed me enough with Hack the Planet that I wrote a little Python script to convert scriptingNews to RSS. (NetNewsWire doesn’t support scriptingNews subscriptions.)

I had never coded in Python before, but I’ve read a little from Learning Python and Dive into Python. Even so, the script is mostly an unenlightened mess. The usual disclaimers apply: do whatever you want with it, don’t blame me, feel free to send improvements back to me, etc.

I’m running it from cron on my Mac OS X laptop with curl -s http://wmf.editthispage.com/xml/scriptingNews2.xml | python sn2rss.py > wmf_rss.xml, and then I point NetNewsWire at the local generated file.

You can download it here: sn2rss.py.txt.

For those wondering why I didn’t just use XSLT, I did try that first. But doing string replaces didn’t seem to be available in the old version of XT I was testing with.

A final warning: Python’s XML parser on Mac OS X 10.2 is broken. I had to install PyXML, which also had a broken install script that required tweaking. Too bad I threw away my changes.