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February 22, 2003

A technical question for my many readers who grasp this stuff better than I do. I’d like my RSS feed to syndicate the full text of my posts, not just an excerpt. Movable Type offers a setting with which to specify the number of words in an auto-generated excerpt, so my first thought was to simply set this to an extremely high value, like 999. But the syndicated posts that result turn out to be stripped of important formatting, like blockquote tags. So I’ve resorted to manually copying the whole post into the “excerpt” box in the MT entry form, which is a minor pain, and keeps me from being able to use handy tools like NetNewsWire’s posting facility. Does anyone know how to make Movable Type simply syndicate the whole post without this kind of workaround?

UPDATE: Mike Scott has the answer, in the comments to this post. Seems to have worked fine. [11:27 AM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on A technical question:

Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 12:16 PM:

In any RSS template that you want to deliver the whole artcle rather than the excerpt, just replace "$MTEntryExcerpt" with "$MTEntryBody" and rebuild your files.

If you want to have both options available, you can create a new template and copy the current template into it, then change the new template.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 12:41 PM:

Thank you! That worked entirely.

Michael Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 01:08 PM:


Rather than simply putting the full text in the description tag (which is intended for excerpts), I suggest you change your template to include the full text in the content:encoded element instead, allowing your readers to control which they see. Here is a link to an appropriate template for MovableType, and explanation on how to use it:


kellan ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 01:40 PM:

Mark and Sam have done great documentation of this as part of the RSS Validator.

Example MT templates for RSS 1.0 and 2.0, and instructions on how to use them.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 02:32 PM:

I'm rather confused by the last two comments. I don't immedietly grasp what it means to "include the full text in the content:encoded element," and I'm unclear about whether Michael Bernstein and "kellan" are suggesting I do the same thing, or something different.

In general, I have tended to find that discussions of XML and so forth tend to hover just a bit outside of comprehensibility. As with the generally-lucid Movable Type folks when they first introduced "TrackBack," one has the sense of people who are enraptured by a technology's potential but not quite finishing all the sentences needed to actually describe to the rest of us what it's good for and what its implications are.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 02:51 PM:

Okay, I followed kellan's advice, and I seem to be both making a full-text feed and it's validating as correct RSS, so I guess I'm in good shape. I'm still unclear how I would offer my users a choice, not that I know of any who care, thus far...

Keith Fieldhouse ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 04:54 PM:

Thank you for doing this Patrick. For what it's worth, I read this post in AmphetaDesk (a nice Perl/Browser based aggregator) and was delighted when Electrolite showed up in it's full glory rather than truncated. Again, thanks, and thanks for being one of the more enjoyable parts of my morning surf.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 05:46 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. Although for some reason I'm still not seeing the entirety of entries in my news aggregator, just excerpts. This may be a problem with my news aggregator -- I'm currently trying out NewsMonster, which works as a plug-in to Mozilla, and I'm not yet sure that I'm using it right.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 06:27 PM:

You might try unsubscribing and resubscribing. I've had to do this to a couple of other weblogs, just to kick the system into recognizing what's going on.

Apologies to Michael Bernstein--having now peered into these files I see perfectly well what "content:encoded" means.

Michael Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 07:48 PM:

Patrick, by virtue of the fact that your feed now includes both an excerpt and the full text (in the 'description' and 'content:encoded' elements respectively), your users now have a choice as to which one the news aggregator displays.

That is, of course, assuming that the aggregator they're using: (a) understands both elements, and (b) offers the user a choice somewhere as a preference setting (either globally or per-feed). If the software they're using does not offer this as an option, then they still have the choice to switch to some other aggregator that does.

In any case, you don't need to do anything else.

Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 08:30 PM:

Hmm. I got lost halfway down the comments. I'm currently offering people two different feeds (so they can choose an excerpt or full glory), but this seems to be saying I ought to do it more elegantly. Perhaps Dr Plokta can sort it out for me when he brings my next Buffy fix over tomorrow...

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2003, 03:18 PM:

Turned out to be my fault that I was still seeing only excerpts -- I was using NewsMonster incorrectly.

NewsMonster runs on Mozilla, by the way, so Mac users who want to give it a try, can do so.