Web feeds are a standardized yet widely underestimated way to attach software systems to content providers. You can both bind a news portal of any publisher to you very own piece of software or aggregate and filter several twitter feeds with the very same underlying technology. While giving presentations, I am often tempted to reuse an arbitrary ATOM or RSS feed to build a content-driven mobile application within minutes (next stop: EclipseCon, Santa Clara). Unfortunately, many of those feeds in the wild do not conform to their pretended format when it comes to the details. In order to minimize the risk of a broken live-demo and to make mash-ups of services a bit safer in general, I came up with a free service called The Feed Sanitizer.
Here’s a short description of what the service actually does. Please don’t feel offended by these words. They had been taken directly from the project’s website and try to provoke a more personal relationship to its users:
The Feed Sanitizer takes any news or web feed and turns it into straight, normalized RSS 2.0 / ATOM 1.0. This comes in handy if you are confronting with tangled or messed or knocked up feeds that are barely well-formed and want to parse these with a not-so-solid piece of software. The Feed Sanitizer scrubs off the dirt and returns germ-free feeds.
You could simply pass through a given URL to receive a normalized feed of the desired format, download the result once, or just look at the pretty-printed output with the embedded XML viewer.
For those of you interested in the technical details, the service has been written with Python and runs on Google App Engine. It uses several open source libraries such as djangoappengine, feedparser and SyntaxHighlighter.