Copyright 2005 Sharon Housley
Why is RSS So Magical?
The answer is simple: RSS is news you choose.
How Does it Work?
Publishers and webmasters provide content and news in an RSS feed. Users view the content of interest in an RSS reader or news aggregator. The aggregator or reader contains the collection of feeds that are of interest to the user. As the RSS feed is updated the content in the reader or aggregator updates with the new information. At any point, users can remove a feed from their aggregator or reader and no longer receive information from that source. Ultimately, the user is choosing the news and content they wish to view.
As RSS has increased in popularity more and more webmasters and publishers have adopted RSS as an alternative communication stream. Webmasters use an RSS graphic to indicate the content is available via RSS.
RSS Aggregators and News Readers
Generally, there are three types of RSS readers that users use to view feeds that they've subscribed to. Feeds can be viewed in a desktop application, web-based aggregator, or plug-in aggregator.
Desktop RSS Readers
Standalone desktop applications generally run in the background, similar to an e-mail client, automatically refreshing headlines as newfeeds are updated. The RSS readers collect the feeds and refresh items in the feeds each time they are updated. An example of a popular standalone desktop RSS reader is: FeedDemon - http://www.feeddemon.com
Web Based Aggregators
Web-based news aggregators are online services. In simple terms, you can personalize a web page. Each time that page is accessed or each time you login to the service, the web page news headlines from feeds that you have selected will refresh. Examples of popular web-based RSS aggregators are: SurfPack - http://www.surfpack.com , FeedScout - http://www.feedscout.com or ActiveWeb Reader - http://www.deskshare.com/awr.aspx . My.Yahoo even has the option of including RSS feeds on My.Yahoo start pages.
Plug-in news aggregators expand the functionality of existing applications to allow users to veiw RSS feeds from within an existing program. Some plug-ins work with web browsers; others work with e-mail clients. An example of a plugin is: NewsGator Outlook - http://www.newsgator.com/outlook.aspx
Websites containing RSS feeds usually have a colorful graphic indicating the availability of an RSS feed. The graphic is usually marked 'RSS' or 'XML'. Simply click the graphic and enter the URL of the file into the reader. Regardless of the RSS reader or news aggregator used by web surfers, the process of adding feeds is generally simple. Web surfers need only to enter the URL of the RSS feed that they wish to view into their news reader. Each time the reader refreshes the feed the information contained within the feed is updated and new content in the feed will appear in the RSS reader.
In order to find topic-specific feeds, conduct a search on the RSS search engines available at RSS Specifications - http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-directory.htm or try RSS Locator - http://www.rss-locator.com .
About the author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing and publishing RSS feeds and NotePage, Inc. http://www.notepage.net
a wireless messaging software company.
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