Turning XML weather feeds into cusom content on your website
Gothamist is not only a weather geek, but pretty much just a geek in general. Finding ourselves putting together a custom weather feed for a website at 3am made us think, "Surely we're not the only ones who would go to such lengths to feed our weather demons." So out on a limb we go. Only the true geek should continue on. Previously we mentioned the ability to add weather sitckers to your website in order to provide your visitors with grossly branded weather content (usually just pathetically designed). But if you want to have more control over both the information you provide to your visitors as well as how it is displayed, then truly... you're a geek. We love you.

Several sites offer paid services to get custom weather feeds, but we're going to focus on a couple of free offerings. Both the National Weather Service and the trustyWeather Channel offer XML feeds on their site for the location of your choice. We're not going to go into what XML is in this discussion, but it opens up the door to alot of neat things you can do with the information. When you are coding your website, whether you are using Perl, PHP, or blogging with Moveable Type, you provide the a request for the feed and you get back an XML document that contains the information you requested. Weather.com gives you access to current conditions, up to a 10 day forecast, images, all of the general information you'd expect, and additional stuff like "feels like temperature", UV index, wind, visibility, sunrise, sunset, precipitation probablities, and a bunch more. You specifiy what information you want in your request for the XML document, then use your programming language's functions in order to parse out the information you want.

PHP has a class package for obtaining XML weather information as well as several straight XML and feed-based parsing classes. Perl also has several XML modules for parsing this information as well as specific weather modules including Weather::Underground, which fetches weather information from the information-rich website WeatherUnderground (they make the name so very obvious) and you can get weather on your blog with a couple of easy MT tags. You could also use the MTPugin GetXML to parse your weather feeds manually. You see where we are going with this? There's about a million ways you can truly nerd-out and get customized weather on your website. Or in any application really.

One other way to go if you want to dive in and go for the whole mama... we're talking, "Hey, I wan't to run my own weather website!", then you'll definitely want to look at HamWeather. Ham Weather provides you with the tools to run your own weather site (as in depth, or basic as you wish). They have a PHP, ASP, or Perl version available so whatever yoru skillset, you're covered. In addition, each version has a library of plugins that you can use to enhance the product further to include moon information. measurement conversions, distances, images, the list goes on and on. It's been around for a while and has really shown itself to be a superior weather product. The kicker? It's free. All they ask for is a link in return. If you don't want to give them credit, you can pay a $75 fee. Still...

That said, we should point out that some sites (especially commercial ones like The Weather Channel) have some rules about how you you can use and display their information. It's pretty rudimentary and a small price to pay for free content in our opinion. Besides, why not pimp out the weather geekness. Weather geek is mad chic. Um.... yo.