What the Heck Is RSS?

Gravity Jack In the Press

Really Simple Syndication or RSS, is a valuable way to keep up with new information on interesting websites that you visit often. RSS uses a special XML code that constantly checks for updates or new information on a particular website, and then sends the information to subscribers.
RSS feeds as they are called are often found in blogs or internet news sites, however RSS feeds can be used by any website that has information to broadcast or publish. When new, updated information is sent, it will have a headline, and usually some text. This text will sometimes be a summary or a review of the full published or broadcast material. Also there will likely be a link that must be clicked on to read the entire article.
In order to accept an RSS feed from a website, you will need something called an aggregator. An aggregator is a small program that collects all of the your subscribed feeds into one place, so you can quickly get up to speed about your favorite websites. There are many aggregators that are freely available online. Another advantage of RSS feeds is the ability to access them from a PDA or cell phone.
When you find a website you want to subscribe to, you will need to add it to your aggregator. Adding to your aggregator can be done in one of two ways. Most websites that offer RSS have “RSS” or “XML” button on their main page. All you will need to do is click on the button and the site’s feed will be added to your aggregator. It should be noted however, that some RSS aggregators require that you copy and paste the URL of the feed.
Whichever technique you use to subscribe you will start to receive updates in a matter of seconds. In case you do not want to receive a particular feed any longer, all you have to do is delete or erase the feed from your aggregator.
E-mail subscriptions allow you to receive newsletters. RSS feeds allow you to keep up to access updates immediately verses waiting for the next scheduled newsletter. Since you sign up for the RSS feed, the information will never be accidently identified as spam. RSS feeds are used by people every day to stay abreast of valuable information. It is definitely a time saving tool since you only receive updates that appeal to you.
Aggregators
Aggregators are used to compile RSS feeds in once convenient location. There are several kinds of aggregators. Web aggregators, also known as web portals make the feeds into a Web page. Aggregators can also be included into email-patrons and desktop software.
An aggregator can become a valuable tool especially if it has some special features such as compiling related feeds into one area, hiding entries that have already been viewed, and classifying entries by genre.
Why Should I Have A Feed?
First of all you will increase the convenience factor of you viewers. Traditionally a viewer would need to remember to check your site every so often. Now will RSS, they will be notified and will be more likely to respond since they know that there is new information on the website.
An example is if you updated you website every month about a new development or product. Individuals without a feed would have to remember to check back every month to see if something was new, also even if something is new they might not notice it. However, if you have a RSS feed you can immediately point them to the new information and updates about new products and promotions. An RSS allows user to have almost instant gratification for their interests. This gratification means more viewers and more traffic to your site.
Format Wars..What Format to Choose?
Syndication may seem like a complicated and confusing subject since there are many formats to choose from. However, this problem is easily solved since most aggregators contain syndication libraries that generalize feed formats.
Picking an RSS feed format is usually a matter of personal preference. If you are looking for far reaching and practical system then you can choose RSS 1.0, also RSS 1.0 can be incorporated into Semantic Web Systems. RSS 2.0 is simpler and easier to hand code. ATOM is another format, which is an IETF Standard, brings uniformity and standardization in its usage.

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