KnowNow gives RSS a business-savvy shine
ESS 3.1.7 combines simplicity of RSS with solid management, data connections, desktop delivery
You'd have to have been living on Pluto to have not heard of RSS by now. You probably use it to keep up with your favorite blogs. You may have even wondered how you could use it in your business.
For a few simple feeds, blogging software probably gives you all the management capabilities you need. But if you really want to exploit RSS for work purposes, you need KnowNow ESS.
ESS (Enterprise Syndication Server) is a scalable platform for managing syndicated content including RSS 2.0 and Atom. With ESS, a business can collect, record, categorize, filter, and provide access control for syndicated feeds from the Internet, locally produced feeds, and even data stores you don’t normally associate with syndication, such as an RDBMS.
I spent some time with ESS 3.1.7, managing feeds of all kinds. As a hosted solution, there was nothing to install: Set-up consisted of configuring a few preferences and I was off. (A licensed version is also available.)
I found ESS to be an excellent system for managing syndicated feeds. The various pieces work together well, and the browser-based set-up and configuration make it easy to get going. The ability to capture, aggregate, and filter traditional RSS feeds as well as data from back-office systems makes ESS a must-have tool for businesses looking to exploit syndication.
A Million Channels
Channels are ESS’s basic categorization unit, and most of the administration activities revolve around adding and managing channels. Channels come in several types; the most basic is a simple RSS channel. Adding an RSS channel is simple: Copy the URL of the RSS feed to the set-up wizard, click the auto-fill button to fill in other data from the feed, categorize the content, and save.
Another type of channel is the aggregated channel, which combines the content of several feeds into one. You can also manage syndicated feeds from Moreover Technologies, which provides custom feeds on specific topics, and from PubSub, which provides real-time blog searches. These last two feeds can be especially important for businesses. Chances are that someone somewhere is mentioning your company on their blog. You can find out what they’re saying about your organization by using ESS to search for and track the latest posts.
Channels show up in the tree-like category menu in the ESS UI’s left-hand pane. Clicking on an existing channel brings up the properties in the right-hand pane so that they can be edited. You can also filter a channel using keywords and control access to a channel by user or by group. ESS ties into LDAP and Active Directory, so your corporate identity infrastructure can be used to manage users.
Turning Data Into Action
Perhaps the most intriguing channel, KnowNow’s LiveAdapter uses RSS to monitor changing data in your company’s databases and other data stores -- an intriguing idea that can turn into a lot of work if you must build custom adaptors for each system.
LiveAdapter, a technology ESS inherits from KnowNow’s LiveServer, makes these links nothing more than a matter of configuration. I easily created an RSS feed from a MySQL database containing dummy customer data and saw that feed show up in an RSS reader right away.