Converting YouTube new video notifications to an RSS feed

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Do you like to know of new YouTube videos on your favou­rite channels and play­lists the mo­ment they are pub­lish­ed? Of course, you can vi­sit YouTube web­site and check it for your­self, or even sub­scribe to a channel and set it up so that you are noti­fied by e-mail every time a new video is added. However, if you are accus­tomed to dis­co­vering new Web con­tent through your RSS feed reader, you may pre­fer using the sa­me tool to ob­serve your favou­rite YouTube channels and play­lists.

Fortunately, YouTube pro­vides a sim­ple pub­lic API that lets you trans­form the list of the most re­cent addi­tions to a channel or a play­list to an RSS feed. You may then add the trans­for­mation link to your favou­rite RSS reader and be noti­fied of all new addi­tions. If you don't know how to achieve it, the article be­low ex­plains it all.

Anyone can use the YouTube web page to sub­scribe to channels and be noti­fied of new videos being pub­lish­ed. However, YouTube users are some­times more in­te­res­ted in cer­tain play­lists than whole channels — and you can­not watch just for new videos on a single play­list. Fortunately, there is an API that pro­vides an RSS feed con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion on the most re­cent addi­tions to a channel or a play­list with a given iden­tifier. All a user has to do is to de­ter­mi­ne the iden­tifier and ge­ne­rate a pro­per URI.

The add­ress of an RSS feed corres­pon­ding to a channel is as follows:

As an exam­ple I will use Jan Beta's channel, dedi­cated to ret­ro-elec­tro­nics and old com­pu­ters. If we look for the channel using You­Tube's built-in search uti­lity, we should ob­tain such an URI:

The channel's iden­tifier is, un­sur­pri­singly, UCftUpOO4h9EgH0eDOZtjzcA. Thus, the channel's RSS feed can be acces­sed using the URI:

and it can be used in your favou­rite RSS reader as a source of no­ti­fi­ca­tions of all new videos appear­ing on the men­tio­ned above channel.

As the se­cond, more diffi­cult exam­ple I will use The 8-Bit Guy's channel, also dedi­cated to ret­ro-com­pu­ting. However, as you can see, the add­ress of this channel does not con­tain the iden­tifier re­quired to form a pro­per RSS feed URI and is in­stead based on the user account's name. Fortunately, all one needs to do to dis­cover the channel's iden­tifier is to start play­back of any video pub­lish­ed on the channel. The channel's name dis­played be­low the clip title acts as a link back to the channel, but this time it con­tains the ID we were looking for:

So, the iden­tifier of The 8-Bit Guy's channel is UC8uT9cgJorJPWu7ITLGo9Ww and the RSS feed that will notify you of all new videos posted by him is:

Much more can be achieved with You­Tube's RSS feed links, how­ever. Even if you are not in­te­res­ted in some channel as a whole, there may be this one single play­list that caught your eye and you want to ob­serve it for all new con­tent. You can­not do this using You­Tube's web page. However, you can ge­ne­rate an RSS feed link that does that for you. Of course, play­list-based no­ti­fi­ca­tions are de­pen­dent on a cre­ator's self-dis­cip­line and orga­ni­sa­tional skills as not all of them are wil­ling to ca­te­go­rise their con­tent into sepa­rate play­lists and pub­lish new clips di­rect­ly to a pro­per one. However, if the cre­ator whose work you are in­te­res­ted in is one of those who are better orga­nised, you can use the link formed as:

to con­vert a cer­tain play­list's con­tents to an RSS feed. In case of play­lists, de­ter­mi­ning a pro­per ID is much easier, as it is di­rect­ly acces­sible within play­lists links avail­able on the YouTube channel's web­site:

So, the RSS feed corres­pon­ding to the “Com­mo­dore History” play­list can be acces­sed using the URI:

In com­pa­ri­son to func­tio­nality pro­vided by You­Tube's web site itself, the method de­scribed above has two pri­ma­ry ad­van­tages:

Additio­nal­ly, in terms of time mana­ge­ment skills, aggre­gating all your no­ti­fi­ca­tions in one tool re­du­ces the num­ber of dis­trac­tion fac­tors and thus allows you to fo­cus on your work more deeply and use time slots allo­ca­ted for re­cent in­for­ma­tion re­view more effecti­vely.

I hope that the method I've co­vered above will be of use to you, even though I am well aware that RSS rea­ders, un­for­tu­na­tely, are not a very popu­lar soft­wa­re ca­te­gory.