I discovered Optimal while looking for ways to render OPML as HTML. OPML, for my purpose and many of those reading this, is what RSS is to data, for RSS. That is, an OPML outline describes a list of feeds, each of which consist of an RSS feed for another site, which represents a collection of posts. That may sound confusing, but the example podcast list I offered in my previous post should clue you in to its use. Many RSS readers are capable of both importing and exporting RSS feeds via OPML files. You can use OPML files to act as a backup of your RSS feeds. It doesn’t include each RSS feed’s data, only the feed URL itself. So I needed a way to present this list of feeds as a list of URL’s for viewers to click through and access the website and feed for a given item. It was more difficult than I thought to find the necessary resource. There are few choices other than writing a piece of preparsing code yourself for OPML’s XML data scheme. The Optimal tools allowed me to download the code to my server (recommended) and generate my own iframe widget to display the parsed OPML code. It’s a mixture flash (for podcast enclosures), AJAX, and PHP XML parsing goodness. It looks good, feels good, and so I say it is good! You can play around with their tools on their site, but they note that you should download the source to run off of your own server. I can see where the AJAX code could really hurt their server if everybody tried to run it from there. I tried to use the WordPress plugin initially, but had some errors doing so. Rather than spending the time to figure that problem out, I just used the standalone component to generate my iframe widget. That seemed to be the simplest and most straightforward method of using the tool.