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RSS to PDF Conversion

A few years ago (around 2007), I was working as a freelancer and I received a request for taking a set of RSS/ATOM feeds and consolidate them as a PDF file. The result? RSS2PDF, a UK-based website offering a free RSS/ATOM to PDF conversion service.

rss 2 pdf logo

Although now there are many services like RSS2PDF, such as FiveFilters and RSS2PDF, this website was a pioneer in file conversion.

The idea behind it is pretty simple. Paste the URLs of the required feeds into the form and then press the ‘generate PDF’ button. This will create a PDF file with the contents of each feed, including the exact date and time of production.

Users could create their own PDF magazine with this tool by creating a user profile and including the feeds they were interested in and would be able to convert their feeds by simply clicking on the link.

This, in turn, would allow them to add the tool on their own website, and let visitors generate output files at the touch of a button.

How it works

Clicking a link is pretty simple but the cool stuff runs silently behind the scenes… When the user sent the form, all URLs would be fetched by using cURL functions, get parsed and, if they contained actual RSS2 or ATOM feeds, they would get fetched as well.

If the URLs didn’t contain a valid RSS feed, they would get parsed using the RSS/ATOM parser class I created and if any valid links were found, they would be retrieved and added to the list.

Once all feeds were fetched and parsed, they would be converted to PDF using tcPDF, and when done, the PDF file would be sent to the browser for download. All this was performed using PHP, including the options to email the PDFs to people who created their profiles.

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