Google News gets RSS and Atom feeds

Last year Google was clamping down on independent RSS feeds from its News service, but now it is embracing the technology

Google has introduced RSS and Atom feeds for its popular Google News aggregation service, a year after banning a UK programmer from offering a similar service.

RSS and Atom are XML-based document formats that alert Internet users to the latest articles or postings on their favourite Web sites via a single feed reader, which could be integrated into an email application of Web browser.

Google News users can now subscribe to get an RSS or Atom feed from any of seven key subject areas designated by Google. They can also create customised RSS news feeds, or see the results of any Google News alerts they have set up.

Google News, which aggregates links to the latest news stories on thousands of Web sites, is available in 22 versions for different audiences around the world. The RSS and Atom feeds are being initially offered on just six versions — US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and India.

"We've launched this service because we've had a lot of requests from Google users to support RSS and Atom," explained a Google UK spokeswoman.

In April 2004 UK programmer Julian Bond received a cease-and-desist notice from Google after creating his own feed that scraped headlines off Google News. These headlines were then displayed on another Web site, called Ecademy.

Google UK declined to comment on this matter.

Bond himself said on Tuesday Google had taken action because the results of his RSS feed from Google were being fed into online RSS aggregators and then republished on the Web.

"I was really irritated about Google not offering RSS feeds from [Google] News search. So I wrote a scraper that did the search and generated an RSS feed from it," explained Bond, who added that he welcomed the news that Google was now offering RSS and Atom feeds.

"It will mean that I can retire my scraper and stop having to maintain it every time Google change their page layout," said Bond.