Do you want to watch timely updates from your favorite websites in one place? Save your time and efforts with RSS! This format will help you syndicate the content of newsletters, blogs and other online resources. All new articles will be displayed on one page, so you can scan the information more efficiently. With RSS you won’t miss anything interesting!
What is RSS?
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a very convenient lightweight format used to syndicate frequently updated web content, for example blog entries, news headlines, audio and video. In other words, it is similar to one particular "What's New" page for all your favorite Internet publishers.
Originated by Netscape, RSS has become a very popular means of sharing content between websites. If you are addicted to the constant flow of information from the Internet, it will help you manage it without any difficulties.
First of all, RSS will help you stay informed by retrieving the latest information from the websites you are interested in. It saves your valuable time because you don’t need to read numerous newsletters or visit each website individually.
Instead of scanning whole web pages for information, you can just review headlines from several sites collected in one place. Sometimes you can even notice some interesting articles that you might miss on the original page.
Today there are thousands of RSS-enabled sites and more on the way. They include big names like Yahoo News, BBC, CNN, CNET, Disney, Forbes, Wired, Reuters, Motley Fool, Salon, Slashdot and more.
Brief RSS History
RDF Site Summary, the first version of RSS, was created by Netscape in March 1999. It became known as RSS 0.9. Later in 1999, Netscape produced a new version, RSS 0.91, which simplified the format. It was also renamed to "Rich Site Summary." Old versions of RSS simply provided a website summary, similar to a content listing.
In April 2001 AOL bought Netscape and started to restructure its properties. A new design of the My Netscape portal came out without RSS support. Thus the RSS format lost its owner at the time when it was becoming popular.
In 2000 two entities emerged to fill the void: a working group called RSS-DEV and UserLand Software. This was a major fork in the RSS development. In December 2000 the RSS-DEV group launched RSS 1.0. Several weeks later UserLand released an alternative version – 0.92. It became a prototype for RSS 2.0, released in 2002.
How does RSS work?
RSS is a way to subscribe to a source of information and keep up with what’s happening on the web. These sources are called “feeds”, "web feeds", or "channels." They are basically just a small .xml page that contains a list of articles and other content from the website, plus additional data such as publishing dates and authorship. Each time the website is updated, the RSS feed is updated as well.
RSS feeds can be read by using special software called an "aggregator," "RSS reader" or "feed reader." They will help you track of updates on your favorite websites by checking their RSS feeds, grabbing new information and displaying it for you to read.
Aggregators collect and display RSS feeds in one location. That way, you can see news and articles from several websites in one place. You can easily subscribe or unsubscribe from any feeds you want.
How can I read an RSS feed?
There are two steps to getting started:
If you want to take advantage of RSS format, you need to start with a location for reading posts, news and articles - an aggregator. They can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. Nearly all aggregators are free.
The first option is the Internet browser that can handle RSS feeds, for example Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. It is very convenient because you don't need to switch programs when you want read your RSS feeds, and you don't need to switch back to your aggregator when you find a great website which you want to subscribe to.
However, there are also disadvantages of using your browser as an aggregator. If you use more than one computer to access the Internet, you won’t be able to synchronize your RSS channels. It means that you will be receiving the same information. For example, if you take 20 minutes in the morning to read the latest events at your home computer, you will see the same headlines on your office computer.
The immense popularity of RSS feeds has encouraged such giants as Google and Yahoo! to incorporate feed readers into their products. So you can add your feeds to iGoogle or MyYahoo! personal pages.
Another option is to use specially designed aggregators, such as Google Reader, Bloglines, Awasu, RSS Bandit, SharpReader, Rojo or others. They provide a lot of various features to help you follow news and blogs easily, comfortably and efficiently.
For example, you can group RSS feeds together. If you want to have music news in one folder and friends’ blogs in another, you can customize your aggregator according to your preferences. Or you can mix all your feeds together and read updates simultaneously.
Once you have chosen your aggregator, you need to find sites that syndicate content and subscribe to their RSS feeds. The number of websites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly, so it is difficult to find a website that doesn’t share the content.
Usually, websites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know that a feed is available. RSS channels can also be found via "Syndicate This," “+My Yahoo!”, “Add to Google” and similar links.
Nowadays the most popular RSS symbol is an orange square with three white radio waves. This button initiates the subscription process. You just need to click it and follow the instructions. Typically, this process will be very quick. You’ll see a dialogue box that will let you subscribe to RSS feeds with just a couple of clicks.
Sometimes after clicking the RSS button you will see a page with a HTML code. In order to subscribe to a feed, you will need to copy its address and paste it into your RSS reader (There is a link called “Add subscription” or “Add feed”).
Your RSS reader will regularly check the subscribed feeds for any updates. If it finds new content, it will download it for you to read. Since you only get what you ask for, RSS feeds are a spam-free way to follow websites and blogs.