About RSS

What are News Feeds?

RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed,” “web feed,” or “channel,” contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

RSS content can be read using software called a “feed reader” (see software list right) or an “aggregator.” The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.

How Does It Work?

Basically, when a new article is posted or a change made to a webpage, RSS keeps track of the changes and delivers them to you. RSS feeds are most often attached to text, images, podcasts and video, but they can be used with any document (word processing and spreadsheets) that has content that changes.

How do People Use feeds?

Aggregators are the most common use of feeds, and there are several types. Web aggregators make this view available in a Web page; my Yahoo or iGoogle are well-known examples of this. Aggregators have also been integrated into e-mail clients, users’ desktops, or standalone, dedicated software.

Aggregators can offer a variety of special features, including combining several related feeds into a single view, hiding entries that the viewer has already seen, and categorizing feeds and entries.

Other uses of feeds include site tracking by search engines and other software; because the feed is machine-readable, the search software doesn’t have to figure out which parts of the site are important and which parts are just the navigation and presentation. You may also choose to allow people to republish your feeds on their Web sites, giving them the ability to represent your content as they require.

What Can RSS Help Me Do?

One of the original uses for RSS is the ability to create a unique newspaper with new content waiting for you every morning. You can get your news headlines, search for jobs, read your favorite articles, get software updates, keep up with other people’s schedules and follow calendar listings for your favorite clubs and venues. You can see what others are saying about your hobbies or keep up with what others are saying about your interests. All without surfing through pop-up ads, slow downloads and poorly navigated sites. RSS saves time.

How Do I “Subscribe” to a Feed?

There are various ways. You may see this on web pages, which is a link to the RSS feed or a page of feeds. Copy the url (the web address) of the feed you want and paste it in your reader to subscribe. Many pages offer one-click subscription to well-known aggregators like NewsGator, Bloglines, Rojo and Google Reader. The latest versions of the popular web browsers IE-7 and Firefox now incorporate RSS feeds into their bookmark programs. If your bookmarks are showing updated content, you are subscribed to RSS feeds and you don’t even know it.

Can I Only Access RSS Through a Computer?

You can access RSS feeds on any mobile device and many cell phones or via e-mail as well as on a computer.

Further Information on RSS Feeds

Software

  • Bloglines Free, web-based news aggregator that makes it easy to keep up with your favorite blogs and RSS newsfeeds. www.bloglines.com
  • Feedreader Windows application that reads and displays RSS newsfeeds based on XML. www.feedreader.com
  • FeedBurner Advanced feed management technology that helps bloggers, podcasters, and commercial publishers get more value from the content they create. www.feedburner.com
  • SharpReader RSS aggregator for the .NET framework. www.sharpreader.net
  • NewsGator RSS news aggregator that runs in Microsoft Outlook. www.newsgator.com
  • Radio UserLand Blog tool that builds a site, organizes and archives posts, and publishes content. radio.userland.com
  • NewzCrawler Web news reader and browser which provides access to news content from different sources. www.newzcrawler.com
  • Pluck Offers an Internet Explorer add-on which integrates a bookmark manager, web sharing, RSS reader, and search. www.pluck.com
  • Awasu Free Windows RSS news-reader. www.awasu.com
  • Google Reader Customizable aggregator for feeds from news sites, blogs, and other sites with a sharing facility. reader.google.com
  • RSS Bandit An RSS/Atom aggregator for desktops written with the .NET Framework. www.rssbandit.org