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How to Import an RSS Feed in Airtable

Feb 10, 2022Andy Cloke

Many blogs and other websites make their content available as an RSS feed. In this guide, you'll learn how to import items from an RSS feed in Airtable using the Data Fetcher extension. Finally, you'll learn how to automate this, so that our Airtable base is kept up to date with any changes in the RSS feed.

What is an RSS Feed?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It's a simple content distribution format used by many news sites, blogs, social media channels and even podcasts. Instead of having to visit a website to see new posts, you can add its RSS feed to an RSS reader. Because RSS feeds are standardized, an RSS feeder will handle RSS feed from any service that provides one.

Here are some examples:

Technically speaking, RSS feeds use the XML markup language/ file format. So we'll use the free Data Fetcher extension, which lets us import any XML, CSV or JSON without leaving Airtable.

Install Data Fetcher

Go to the Airtable marketplace and add Data Fetcher to your base.

After you have added it, click 'Continue with Google' to sign up with Google. Alternatively, enter a password and click 'Sign up for free'. Creating a Data Fetcher account keeps your request details secure. e.g. if you share your Airtable base with someone else, they would just see the Signup screen.

Group 1Data Fetcher Sign Up .png

How to Import an RSS Feed in Airtable

Once you've signed up for a Data Fetcher account, you will land on the home screen. Click 'Create your first request' to go to the create request screen, where you will enter the details of the RSS feed you want to import.

click-create-your-first-request.png

Under Application on the create request screen, select 'Custom'.

custom-application-selected.png

Enter 'Import RSS Feed' as the Name of your request.

Next, you need to enter the URL for the RSS feed you want to import. For this tutorial, we will use the Stratechery blog's RSS feed. The URL for this is https://stratechery.com/feed. You can use whatever RSS feed URL you need to.

import-rss-feed-name-url.png

Select the Output Table & View. This is the Airtable table that the RSS feed items will be imported into. You probably want to select a fresh, empty table to avoid overwriting any existing data.

output-table-1.png

Click 'Save & Run' in the bottom right-hand corner.

rss-feed-save-run.png

The Response field mapping will now open. This is where you can see a preview of the data you can import from the RSS feed into Airtable.

Each available field in the RSS feed can either be imported or filtered out by clicking the green toggle next to the field name. For each field, you can map it to an Existing field or a New field in your output table. For new fields, you can select the type of field you want to create.

Click 'Import all' or 'Filter all' in the top right of the modal to import or filter all fields, respectively.

Make sure you import the unique id field from the RSS feed, usually called 'Rss channel item guid'. Also, import any other fields you want.

Once you are happy with the mapping, click 'Save & Run'.

rss-feed-response-field-mapping.png

Data Fetcher will create any new fields in the output table, then run the request and import the data from the RSS feed to Airtable.

rss-feed-imported-data.png

Finally, we want to ensure Data Fetcher can match up items in the RSS feed with records in Airtable, even if we move those records around.

Click 'Advanced settings' to open the advanced output settings. Under Update Based on Field, select 'Rss channel item guid'.

Click 'Save'. When our request runs it will now match up the items in the RSS feed with the records in the output table, even if those records have moved position.

rss-feed-update-based-on-field.png

Import RSS Feed on a Schedule

At the moment, you must import the RSS feed data manually by clicking 'Run'. We can use Data Fetcher's scheduled requests feature to import it automatically on a schedule, even when you're not logged into Data Fetcher/ Airtable.

This is paid feature, so you'll need to upgrade to a paid Data Fetcher plan.

Scroll to Schedule and click 'Upgrade'.

table-1-schedule-upgrade-button.png

A new tab will open where you can select a plan and enter your payment details.

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Return to the Data Fetcher extension and click "I've done this".

table-1-schedule-ive-done-this-button.png

Click 'Add API key' in order to add your Airtable API key. You can find your Airtable API key here.

Group 11(1).png

Enter your Airtable API key and click 'Save'.

save-airtable-api-key.png

Enable Schedule this request.

schedule-data-fetcher-request.png

Select how often you want the request to run, e.g. 'Every hour'.

Click 'Save'. Data Fetcher will now import the RSS feed automatically on the schedule you selected.

Group 11(2).png

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