Wednesday, February 6, 2013

HOWTO: View RSS Feeds in Gmail

How to view RSS feeds in Gmail / Google Mail
Have you ever had this experience?  You want to keep up on various RSS feeds that are of interest, such as the Google App Engine Status Alerts feed.  At the same time, you don't want to have to load a separate page just to get a quick read of the feed.  I'll show you how to do this directly from your Google Mail / Gmail using free tools and Zero programming!




  One little trick that I use is to to add the RSS Feed Reader Gadget in Google Mail.  To do this, you go to Labs, then enable the lab that lets you add any gadget by URL.  


Enable the "Add any gadget by URL" lab
Enable the "Add any gadget by URL" lab

Your Gmail will reload; go back to the Settings screen and notice that there's now a tab for "Gadgets."  When you go there, you'll be prompted for a URL of the gadget you want to add.  The URL for the RSS Feed Reader gadget is:
It'll probably reload your Gmail and there'll be a gadget near the bottom-left that has CNN headlines.  If you hover over the left center-side of the gadget, a yellow bar will show up with a wrench at the top.  Click on the wrench.  It'll pop up a dialog asking for the URL to provide.  


  I want to keep up on the status of Google Apps and Google App Engine; should there be any issues, I can get in touch with my clients and keep them in the loop about the situation.  So, I'll be using the Google App Engine status alert feed in this example.  Ditch the CNN URL and replace it with the URL to the Google App Engine status feed:

Then, you'll be able to see any Google App Engine alerts that Google issues quickly and easily. When you're done, it'll look something like this (well, you may not have the Tasks gadget, but you know what I mean..):

Add the RSS Feed Reader gadget to your Gmail / Google Mail
Add the RSS Feed Reader gadget



If you want to follow several feeds, you can't just add the RSS Feed Reader gadget multiple times, unfortunately. You'll need an alternative solution: an RSS aggregator. I use a free one that seems to be working out just fine for me:
You can plug in multiple feed URLs and it'll provide a single URL to read moving forward. Plug that into the RSS Feed Reader gadget and you'll be good to go. Here's the URL to the Google Apps status alert feed:
Here's what that looks like:

RSSMix.com lets you combine multiple RSS feeds into a single feed
RSSMix.com lets you combine multiple RSS feeds into a single feed

Here's the resulting page:

Copy and Paste the resulting feed into your RSS Feed Reader
Copy and Paste the resulting feed into your RSS Feed Reader

So, from now on, I can view the following URL in my RSS Feed Reader to see the status of both Google App Engine and Google Apps:
There are lots of applications for this beyond just Google status messages; news stories, sports scores, event RSS feeds, and software releases all come right to mind.

-- Wes Dean, a Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist and a Google Apps Trusted Tester, is Principal of KDA Web Technologies, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller. To learn how Wes and KDA Web Technologies can help you, go to http://www.kdaweb.com/.