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.