Using the IMPORTFEED Function in Google Sheets
How to Fetch RSS Feeds Using the Google Sheets IMPORTFEED Function
IMPORTFEED function in Google Sheets allows us to quickly import RSS feeds into our sheets.
With as nothing more than a URL, the feed will be imported and transformed into a Google spreadsheet.
This won’t replace a good RSS reader, but
IMPORTFEED can be a powerful tool to import and then use or process data from RSS feeds.
Let’s look at this simple example to see how it works.
The syntax is fairly simple. Once you have a URL, you can start like this:
=IMPORTFEED(URL, "items", TRUE, 10)
IMPORTFEED to grab the 10 most recent news items from Google News RSS.
=IMPORTFEED("https://news.google.com/news/rss", "items", true, 10)
An Advanced Example
Let’s have a deeper look inside our RSS feed:
We’ll ask Google Sheets to specifically grab titles, descriptions and links.
In the settings page of our sheet we specify:
FIELDS WE WANTper news item: the title, description, and URL.
NUMBER OF ITEMSwe want: 10 items.
URLs we want to fetch: the main Google News feed, as well as the feeds filtered to “Sports” and “Business”.
In the results page we include a series of
IMPORTFEED calls per URL and field we want:
=IMPORTFEED(`URL`, `FIELDS WE WANT`, TRUE, `NUMBER OF ITEMS`)
Here in the result spreadsheet you will see both the settings page, and 3 results pages for the different feeds we imported.
IMPORTFEED function will easily convert RSS feeds into spreadsheets, but it has an important limitation: we’re not directly accessing those feeds, Google is doing it for us.
This leads to a few notable effects:
A quite limited choice of fields - our only options are
'items created', and
Authentication isn’t possible - Google Sheets can only access public available RSS feeds, so if we need to access an RSS feeds that requires authentication we’re out of luck.
Sync and delays - Google Sheets will buffer and sync results. This can be a good thing, but sometimes it can result in long delays or even periods where the spreadsheet shows an error message.
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