What is RSS Feed?

Advances in communication technology have enhanced the way people access, retrieve, store and share information. In the past, websites sent subscribers email notifications regarding new content. This was not a very reliable way to keep users updated because some emails could end up in the junk folder or mixed with other emails.

These days you don’t need to chase several websites and news platforms to keep in touch with latest updates if you don’t want to. You can actually have your favourite website notify you once there’s an update without sending it to your mail. The feature that made this possible is referred to as RSS feed. It is a facility that keeps an updated collection of diverse information on a website. You may have been hearing about RSS feed but you probably do not understand what it is or how it works. This article can help you with the basics you need to know about RSS feed.

What is RSS Feed?

To begin with, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. This is a way for people who publish content on-line to notify potential readers that new content is made available. You don’t have to actively visit websites that are of interest to you just to find out if there are any updates. The RSS alerts you when a website has been updated without you having to do anything.

Another thing RSS does is that it allows you to syndicate content from many www sites. This means that all of the content you’re interested in can be tracked and personalized for you in one place. It makes access to your favourite websites easy and user-friendly. The possibility to decide what content interests you before visiting particular pages is also a great advantage when your connectivity is slow or costly.

What do you need to begin to use RSS?

Many websites are offering RSS feeds. You can usually identify the feeds by looking for a little orange box or link that says ‘RSS’, ‘XML’ or ‘Syndicate this site’. That is your link to the RSS feed. You have to subscribe to the RSS feed in order to automatically get the latest news or the most recent uploads to the website into your RSS reader. You also need to install some software –called a ‘news aggregator’ or ‘RSS reader’- to be able to read the feeds.

 

How do you subscribe to an RSS feed?

To keep in touch with the website you like you need an RSS reader and you also need the link to the RSS feed of that website. You can get the link by clicking on the ‘XML’ or ‘RSS’ button. Often you will see a page that looks a complete mess – lot of programming code or all the news items bunched together. What you do next is to copy the website address that appears when you click that button. It will often end .rdf or .xml. When you add that address to your news reader you become a subscriber to that particular RSS feed.

What is a news reader? It is also called news aggregator, feed aggregator, feed reader, news reader, or RSS reader. This is a software or a web application that aggregates syndicated web content such as online newspapers, blogs, podcasts, and video blogs (vlogs) in one location for easy viewing. The news reader helps you link to RSS feed of the website you like to keep in touch with.

Where do you get an RSS reader?

The RSS reader can be downloaded from online sources depending on the one you want to use. There are many different types of RSS readers some of which are accessed using a browser (for example Google Reader http://www.google.com/ig,), and some of which are downloadable applications. What aggregator you should use depends on your own needs. Browser-based readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer. There are people who prefer to use downloadable applications. This allows them to read RSS feeds in a programme they are already using. For example, My Yahoo! has an RSS module, and NewsGator integrates into Microsoft Outlook. If you use Mozilla Firefox browser, the RSS Reader is already incorporated in Live Bookmarks.

 

Here are the examples of few more RSS readers:

SharpReader (Windows): http://www.sharpreader.net/

jEdit (GNU/Linux, Windows): http://www.jedit.org

Straw (GNU/Linux):

Ximian Evolution (GNU/Linux): http://www.ximian.com

NetNewsWire (Mac): http://ranchero.com/software/netnewswire

Sage, a FireFox extension that is an RSS and Atom feed aggregator (GNU/Linux, Windows): http://sage.mozdev.org/

 

Finally!

The RSS feed is very essential in letting you follow any website of your choice so you won’t miss out on interesting contents. RSS provides you with updated information such as news pieces, and articles. That stripped-down content gets plugged into a feed reader, an interface that quickly converts the RSS text files into a stream of the latest updates from around the web. This feature automatically updates to deliver the newest content right to your device. This approach allows internet users to create their online feeds filled with custom updates from the sites they regularly visit. RSS feeds are very relevant in ensuring convenient navigation of websites.

(With facts first published by genderit.org)

 

 

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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