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Using XSLT to grab only certain RSS entries

So, as I’ve mentioned before, RSS can help you find a job. However, many jobs in my area are posted to a yahoo group (rmiug-jobs). I’m usually interested in seeing new contracts, even if it’s just to see how the market is doing. However, subscribing to this email list presents you with four choices:

1. Have your inbox flooded with job postings, most of which don’t apply to you. The benefit of this method is that when you do see one that applies, you can respond. Every single response I’ve received off of this list was in reply to a mail I sent minutes after seeing the job post; I’m guessing that almost 8000 members means that any job posters are flooded with resumes.

2. Create a filter so that all the mail messages (or even the ones with interesting subject lines) are pushed to one folder in your email client. This means that your inbox isn’t flooded, but that you have to read that folder regularly. I didn’t do that often enough to be worthwhile. In fact, as the messages piled up in that folder, I felt less and less able to read it. In addition, you may have issues if your filtering rules are complex (I want A and B but not C), though not if you use procmail.

3. Get the daily digest and miss out on timely job postings. I did this for a few months and found that I almost never read the large digest. I just felt guilty at the bandwidth wastage.

4. Use the search functionality to periodically check for postings of relevance to you. This helps with research, but doesn’t deal with the time issue. And, you have to remember to check periodically.

However, now there’s a fifth solution. Yahoo provides an RSS feed for that group. (Not all groups seem to have rss provided for them, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on for a group that I moderate.)

With the magic of XSLT, I was able to write a stylesheet which only grabs entries with interesting keywords in the title, thus avoiding the flooding problem. RSS is not real time, but it’s can be close (as close as I want/am allowed to poll the feed). Additionally, I’m a lot more likely to scan it than I would any of the email solutions.

Here’s the relevant XSLT:

<xsl:template match="item">
        <xsl:variable name="item_link" select="link"/>
        <xsl:variable name="item_desc" select="description"/>
        <xsl:variable name="item_title" select="title"/>
        <xsl:variable name="uc_item_title" select="translate($item_title,'boulderjava','BOULDERJAVA')"/>
           <xsl:when test="contains($uc_item_title, 'JAVA')">
              <li><a href="{$item_link}" title="{$item_desc}"><xsl:value-of select="title"/></a></li>
           <xsl:when test="contains($uc_item_title, 'BOULDER')">
              <li><a href="{$item_link}" title="{$item_desc}"><xsl:value-of select="title"/></a></li>


The reason for the translate cheesiness is that the version of the perl RSS module I’m using does not support the upper-case function (here’s a useful list of XSLT functions).

One thought on “Using XSLT to grab only certain RSS entries

  1. Dan Murray says:


    Good idea on the XSLT to filter job postings. Feel free to post to the RMIUG-jobs group with your ideas.

    Dan Murray

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