Are you interested in any of the following?
If the answer to any of these is “yes”, then please read on
I wrote last week about efforts to produce an RSS feed from search terms on BAILII. There were a couple of potential issues identified, however. One being the potential to put too much server load on BAILII, but also further headaches in terms of having to use a third party to create and maintain a functioning RSS feed before you even get to using a feed reader. Oh, and it also appears to be something BAILII considers a prohibited use, but let’s just move on quickly, shall we
Since posting that piece I’ve been in contact with BAILII. As it turns out, BAILII had been looking at potential developments itself and had already ruled out at least one of my suggestions, for understandable reasons
To cut a long story short, after some great work by BAILII’s Systems Administrator/Developer, Roger Bell_West, we are now in a position to let you know about a new experimental method of pulling valid RSS feeds from BAILII search terms
I say experimental because whilst the method itself is valid and works well, it may not be able to be maintained by BAILII for a number of reasons, the most important one being server load
As such, I have agreed with BAILII that in flagging up the method I would stress that this is not currently an officially supported service and so may be pulled at any time without notice
That said, I’m optimistic (but that could be just me)
How to get your RSS feed
Visit BAILII and perform whatever search it is you are interested in. There are a number of search options available, including the Advanced Search facility. It might be a search for a particular type of legal issue (eg “libel”), proceedings (eg “judicial review”) – whatever you like
Once done, your search results will be displayed and in your browser’s address bar you will see the URL specific to that search. You’re going to need to amend this URL, which you can do either directly in the address bar or by copying and pasting it to a text editor or similar and doing it there
Here’s an example:
Let’s say I’m interested in cases involving aircraft noise. Typing “aircraft noise” into the search field gives me the following URL in my browser address bar:
Bear in mind that you can change the way the search results display by sorting results by title, jurisdiction, relevance (default) or date (either oldest or newest first)
Back to the URL – look for this section within the URL string:
and replace the number “1” with “RSS” (it’s not case sensitive). Then hit enter to navigate your browser to the amended URL
Using Safari (5.1.9) with its inbuilt feed reader this is what we get – your search, now transformed into an RSS feed (most recent case first):
Safari switches automatically to the feed in the browser window, which is handy, but other browsers will be different. If you’re not on Safari you’ll need to add your amended URL to your feed reader and create the RSS there
I tried it in Google Chrome for Mac, using a free RSS toolbar widget from the Chrome App Store, and it converted it into a full RSS with no problems. The final RSS also parses correctly in Twitterfeed too. I’m going to try some tests on more exotic searches this week and see what comes out
Where does this leave us?
BAILII has indicated to me that it is prepared to listen to what people have to say about this. Assuming it’s something they can handle their end – server load, covering development/maintenance time etc – then if people find it useful it just might become a standard feature of the site and be incorporated into the home page. I stress the might, no promises
Personally, I think it’s a great idea and could be incredibly useful for people and it’s something that’s worth pursuing
We need feedback!
I’ve agreed with BAILII that I’ll collate any feedback we can pull together on the new search RSS and pass it on to them – it doesn’t matter if it’s technical feedback or just whether you think it’s useful and something you would like to see BAILII formalise (or not) – any feedback is valuable!
So, I’d be very grateful if you could let me know what you think or, how it panned out if you tried it. I’ve embedded a feedback form below for you to reply to me if you can help out. I’d be especially interested in feedback from people using Windows/other browsers. Also, BAILII will be monitoring its server load so if anyone is using it it would be good to get an idea so BAILII can evaluate impact