What is RSS?
If you've been on the internet at all lately, I'm sure you've noticed the little orange and
white graphics that look like this
and wondered what they do. And, if
you've clicked on one all you get is some funny-looking code that probably doesn't
make much sense. Well, that information you see is the XML-formated code. RSS is an
acronym for Really Simple Syndication. Basically, RSS gives authors a way to
share changing stories, headlines and information with other sites or fellow web surfers.
With RSS feeds, you as a web surfer can get content updates automatically delivered to
your desktop from your favorite sites and blogs.
Now that you have an idea of what RSS is all about, how, you may ask, do you get the
information? First, you need a program called an aggregator. An aggregator is similar in
function to a web browser. It goes to a web address, pulls all that XML code from the site,
interprets the code and then displays it in a readable format. You can set your news aggregator
to check your favorite sites at predetermined intervals, download the newest content and then
alert you when something new has arrived. To get the information into your news aggregator, simply
right click on the orange RSS or XML symbol, copy the URL and then paste it into your aggregator.
Where do I get an aggregator?
There are a lot of news aggregators available on the internet. Personally, I have been using
FeedReader which is a free, Open Source program licensed under the GPL. Here are a couple
links to some of these types of programs:
What kind of information can I find?
- EffNews RSS Reader
- Vox Lite
Now that you've downloaded a RSS reader what kind of information can you get?
Almost anything you want. You "subscribe" to RSS feeds anywhere you see the
symbols. There are plenty of sites featuring RSS feeds including news
sites, sports sites, blogs and even NASA. To help you get started here is a short list of
sites with RSS feeds:
RSS for Brian's Site
- U.S. News & World Report
- PC World
Brian, you do not constantly update your site with news headlines, sports scores or
ground-breaking science discoveries so why do you have a RSS feed? I have tried several
methods of keeping visitors informed of updates to my site over the years, including emails,
web services such as ChangeDetection
and then just a
What's New page. The problems were, I did not have email addresses for everyone who wanted to
know when my site was updated, I had problems with ChangeDetection working on my site
and the "What's New" page still required people to periodically visit my site
to see if there were any changes. With an RSS feed I can post any site changes to the feed and
visitors who want an update can simply subscribe to the feed themselves. The other reason I
did this was to learn something new since I didn't know much about it myself.
I still plan to update the What's New page with every update, but I will also include a
RSS feed as an option for visitors who are interested.
Subscribe to Brian's RSS feed:
This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:30 AM