XML is a data format that is used, generally, to transfer data between systems. Simply put, it presents the data values in a structured way to send data to websites or third-party applications. While XML data is not intended to be read by end-users in a non-formatted form, knowing what the attribute names mean can help you to read the XML document as easily as you read formatted webpage content.
XML Feed Reports provided by the Dotcom-Monitor reporting service are created in accordance with the requirements of XML 1.0. The complete specification of XML version 1.0 is contained in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 document developed by the W3C and published on the Internet at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC‐xml.
As was mentioned above, XML data files generated by our XML Report Services (XRS) framework can be imported to your SQL database, dashboards, or any type of reporting system with XML data source support. However, if you want to view data from an XML feed in a nicely formatted Excel spreadsheet, follow these steps.
1. Identify the data you wish to see in the feed by specifying the variables necessary in the URL. You can learn more about the available options in the Using the XML Reporting Service (XRS) article.
The URL to your XML feed should look something like this example:
2. When you enter the URL into a browser and receive results, right-click on the results and save it as an XML file like ‘filename.xml’.
3. Next, open up a new Excel instance. From within Excel, select Open and select the file you just saved as an XML file.
4. Open the XML file. It should prompt you to open the file as an XML table.
And it will be nicely formatted.
XML Feed Monitoring with Dotcom-Monitor
How To Set Up XML Feed Monitoring
As was mentioned above, XML data files generated by our XML Report Services (XRS) framework can be imported to your SQL database, dashboards, or any type of reporting system with XML data source support.
In some cases, you may need to monitor values of particular XML report parameters. For example, you may want to be notified if the status of a particular device in your account is changed.
The XRS framework utilizes HTTP(S) requests to provide access to XML reports. Thus, XML Feed monitoring is similar to HTTP (S) monitoring. Follow the provided steps to setup XML Feed monitoring for the use case described above.
First, create and copy the link to the XML Feed you want to monitor. Once you have the target link copied, create an HTTP monitoring device, and provide the link in the URL field. To be notified on the XML content changes, you need to specify a keyword or assertion string in the Content Validation string. In the case of the device state monitoring, specify the corresponding device parameters. For our example the content validation string can be as following:
Name="<A target device name>" Status="In progress"
Then set up other monitoring device parameters as required (see HTTP(S) Device). Once the monitoring has been started the system will monitor the XML content generated in a real-time mode to the provided URL. Using this approach and by customizing your XML Feed you can be notified of any changes in the report parameters you need to keep tabs on.
The advantages of XML FEED monitoring by Dotcom-Monitor are not limited to monitoring the Real Time XML reports generated by Dotcom-Monitor XRS framework. You can monitor such type of XML FEED as commonly known RSS Feed.
To better understand how to set up RSS Feed Monitoring with Dotcom-Monitor and its benefits, let’s have a closer look at the RSS technology.
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary. It is a family of XML formats that are used to create news feeds, publish article announcements, blog changes, etc. Using RSS formats, it is possible to collect, process, and provide to an end-user information in convenient to consume form. Generally, to parse and convert data generated in the XML format, special RSS reader services and news aggregation applications and websites are used. Most modern RSS Feed can be used free of charge.
In the recent past, RSS feeds were used exclusively to collect updates on sites – news, articles, and other frequently updated information. The RSS updates were collected using various aggregators such as Google Reader and My Yahoo. Nowadays, RSS is still an important tool for the modern Internet. It is widely used for publishing news and updates to one website from an RSS feed of another website. If the XML reports generated by Dotcom-Monitor are considered — a typical use-case is a dashboard on a third-party website with an XRS report. The report can present real-time updates in the state of monitoring devices that were created within a Dotcom-Monitor account, changes in an account summary, particular device status, etc.
The are several versions of RSS. The most popular versions of RSS are:
- RDF Site Summary (RSS 0.9 and 1.0)
- RSS 2.0
- Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0)
In general, RSS file structure can be broken down into three blocks:
- Metadata – headings, subheadings, images, descriptions, body text.
- Hyperlinks – for reading the full version of the articles.
- Additional metadata – article categories and other additional information.
Thus, using an RSS feed can be considered as reading an abstract to a book, overview a table of contents, or newspaper’s headlines. Thus, an RSS feed gives the user (subscriber) the opportunity to read the title and a small quote from the full article (usually the first few lines, or a short summary of a web page) without visiting the website. In addition, to provide a subscriber with access to original content, RSS feeds include the link to the source page. Using the link, a user can open a webpage with the full content of the specific article presented in the feed.
Since an RSS feed is an .XML file, if you simply open this file in a browser, for example, Google Chrome, you will see something like the following picture:
It is obvious that it is not convenient to read an RSS Feed in not formatted form unless you are used to code writing and reading. To parse, convert and present XML feed content in a user-friendly format a number of special applications can be used (RSS readers or Feed readers). For example, Freedly, NewsBlur, and online web services for collecting and displaying RSS feeds (for example, Google Reader, etc.). Modern browsers can also work with RSS feeds.
RSS Feed Monitoring with Dotcom-Monitor
Dotcom-Monitor provides you with a fast and simple way to set up RSS Feed monitoring. Create an HTTP(S) monitoring device with RSS Feed URL, set up content validation, specify the monitoring parameters and you will be notified every time the system detects changes in the specified keyword string or in case of issues with accessing the feed’s URL. Use the initial XML file to find an exact XML parameter name and value you want to monitor for changes in the feed.