While playing with Feed43 recently (an excellent anything-to-RSS converter), I wondered: why doesn’t Feedburner do any of this stuff? It’s just a bit earlier in the RSS food chain (let’s call that the ‘feed chain’). Which of course incentivised me to put that feed chain on paper. This is the result:
RSS feed chain

Let’s go over the steps:

  • 1: create: create an RSS/Atom feed out of something else. This can be the regular expression-based parsing of Feed43, or the Webjay import functionality (get all MP3 links in an external page, and publish them as a podcast-ready RSS feed). As far as I know, Feedburner hasn’t done anything in this area yet. The best example there is Feed43.
  • 2: enrich: make the content of the feed ‘better’. Feedburner does this by e.g. adding your Amazon affiliate number to any Amazon product links, by converting stock symbols into tickers, by adding Feedflare links. Also adding geo-coordinates would fall under this.
  • 3: convert: between formats (e.g. Atom/RSS). This is the market that Feedburner originally identified and now almost completely occupies. They also have SmartCast that converts regular RSS into podcast feeds (audio/video/images). I haven’t seen any real competition here.
  • 4: aggregate: combine several feeds into one. Feedburner already splices Flickr/Buzznet and del.icio.us feeds into the main feed, but does not have the possibility to merge arbitrary feeds together. Feedshake does this.
  • 5: filter: filter items out of a feed. One can imagine a filter to show only feeds items that contain a certain keyword or category, or that contain the right kind of enclosure (e.g. MPEG4 for iTunes or WMV for Media Player).
  • 6: visualize:Feedburner already has BuzzBoost (embed your feed into HTML code) and the headline animator (show your feed as an animated image), and for statistics they have the Feedcount and more general, the feed Awareness API.

Feedburner still has room to move up or down the feed food chain. If they would acquire a service, my bet would be on Feed43 or FeedShake.