There are several reasons why it might be desirable to convert a rich site summary (RSS) feed into a HyperText Markup Language (HTML) document. The process can be fairly simple, considering that RSS primarily uses the extensible markup language (XML) as a base, but XML contains no information about formatting and non-text media content. In most cases, converting from RSS to HTML is performed by a script, web-based application or other computer program. This can be very simple, but it also can sometimes be limiting, which is why particularly complex conversions from RSS to HTML might need to be done manually to ensure all content is placed accurately. The method of converting RSS to HTML can affect the way the resulting HTML page is perceived by the viewer, the browser loading it, and valuable automated systems on other servers.
One guaranteed method of converting RSS to HTML is to actually create the HTML file by hand. This can be as simple as pasting the new text into an existing template or using a website editing program. The advantages of this method are complete control of how the new RSS content is displayed and the ability to add new relevant images and links to a page. This also creates a static web page that is instantly available and not dynamically generated when viewed. The disadvantages are that manually updating an HTML page after updating an RSS feed defeats the simple, publish-once philosophy of RSS.
A popular and fairly simple way to convert RSS to HTML is to use a script embedded in a web page that points to the physical RSS feed location online. Using such a script can keep an HTML page updated without the creator having to manually perform any additional steps, and the page at the address can instantly make the new content available. One complication that needs to be considered when using a conversion script embedded in a webpage is that external programs that look for changed content or keywords in a site, such as spiders used by search engines, will not see the new content and instead will only detect the static script code.
The actual design of any HTML template that will be used when converting RSS to HTML needs to be carefully scrutinized. The location where the RSS text will appear on the page should use fluid, dynamic formatting so that no matter what the length or size of the content is, it will be displayed correctly on the web page. Some HTML elements — including tables, images that are inside of blocks, and even certain cascading style sheet (CSS) division properties — can inadvertently cause unwanted formatting that makes the automatically generated HTML page unreadable by the user.