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RSS feeds for the absolute beginner October 15, 2010

Posted by Tournas Dimitrios in Uncategorized.

If you are totally new to the concept of RSS feeds , then it’s time to demystify this  useful tool .Just to mention that this blog also supports RSS-feeds , so it will automatically “beeps” you every time a new article is posted . First thinks first …. watch this short video to get started  , and if you need more continue with the text explanation that follows .

Are you ready to find out more about RSS, Atom, and feed readers? Such as, why is RSS so popular and what are the benefits? Learn what feed readers are available and which one might fit your needs

What are all those little orange RSS   and XML   buttons I see everywhere? Why do I see code when I click on them? If you’re interested in the answers to these questions, read on to learn about the world of syndication.

RSS has accumulated a number of meanings, from “RDF Site Summary,” to “Rich Site Summary,” to “Really Simple Syndication.” I like the last term best as I think it best describes RSS as a service. RSS might just as easily be called XML syndication because it is based on the XML language. For the purpose of this article, the term RSS will refer to the concept of syndication, which includes other XML technologies, such as Atom, which I will discuss later.

Simply put, RSS allows separates content from the presentation layer, and syndicates the content to a RSS reader. With RSS readers or feed readers, you can aggregate all of your news sources and other content into one program, creating a single view for this information. A good analogy is the capability to create your own custom newspaper that includes articles from sources such as the New York Times, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post with the added ability to choose which subjects you read from each source.

RSS encapsulates metadata (information about data) around the content. This metadata allows an RSS reader to understand such things as the type of content (text versus multimedia), the date of publication, and so forth.

Why is RSS so popular, what are the benefits?

In today’s world, you must sort though hundreds of e-mails and dozens of Web sites to find the information for which you are looking. RSS aggregators simplify this task by bringing these many different data sources together into one view.

RSS feed readers allow you to read news sources or blogs in a single application or Web site. The reader will aggregate all of the feeds that you choose and list them in a simple-to-read fashion. The benefits of having a single location to turn to for your news and information content are numerous:

  1. You visit fewer Web sites
  2. Your news is on demand — ready and waiting when you want it. If you can’t get to it for a few days, all your news will still be there for you (unlike traditional sites where news expires off the front page each day).
  3. No e-mail newsletters clutter your mailbox. Opting in and out is much easier with RSS; it’s difficult to envision spam in an RSS world.
  4. You customize the news and content that comes to you. No need to filter though all the articles on Wired.com, you can have individual subjects ‘delivered to your door’ with less intrusion than an e-mail newsletter.
  5. You can ignore articles or channels that are not of interest to you at the moment.
  6. You stay up-to-date on any news by topic, industry, or subject area.
  7. You don’t have to check back for new postings on the news site. The feed readers deliver content to you.

Content delivery on the Internet now takes a new form. Most people turn to countless sources of information these days. Individuals might look to different portals for news, stocks, security warnings, press releases, industry analysis, product reviews, and so on. Traditionally, this process was time consuming for users as they visited each Web site, poking around for new information before moving on to another Web site. Maybe you are one of the millions of people who subscribe to e-mail newsletters, which bombard your inbox multiple times a day (sometimes per hour); this e-mail method is inefficient and time consuming to sort and filter.

Feed readers aggregate all of this content into a simple, easy-to-view application, and do not intrude on your productivity tools, such as e-mail. Most feed readers have the same look and feel as e-mail applications or newsgroup readers, with folders on the left and content to the right. The folders on the left might represent different Web sites or different news channels. If you are an active blog reader, the folders represent each blog. Most of the RSS popularity grew out of the blogosphere simply because it is inefficient to revisit a blog site multiple times a week to seek out when an author has posted new content; it’s best to have that content delivered to you. This same principle applies for newsgroups and community forums.

RSS 0.91, RSS 0.92, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom:

Wikipedia has more information about the history of RSS . It’s important to note that the different RSS specifications are forked and therefore RSS 2.0 is not simply RSS 1.0 with additional features. Most, if not all feed readers support each specification.A similar specification, Atom is released by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in the hopes of creating a universally adopted specification

A sample RSS 2.0 feed :

<rss version="2.0"
    xmlns:georss="http://www.georss.org/georss" xmlns:geo="http://www.w3.org/2003/01/geo/wgs84_pos#" xmlns:media="http://search.yahoo.com/mrss/"

    Tournas Dimitrios
    xml" />
    <description>Learning the web and more</description>
    <lastBuildDate>Fri, 15 Oct 2010 05:31:12 +0000</lastBuildDate>

<cloud domain='tournasdimitrios1.wordpress.com' port='80' path='/?rsscloud=notify' registerProcedure='' protocol='http-post' />


What feed readers are out there? Which one is best for my use?

You can read RSS feeds a number of ways: everything from stand-alone applications, to Web-based portals, to support directly within your Web browser. Each is outlined below. Some readers are free, while others offer advanced functionality at a cost.

Many people get confused by the little  orange button. For instance, it takes you to a page of machine code and does not open in an appropriate RSS feed reader. This is the XML code; you just need to add the browser’s address location to a RSS feed reader. Choices on how to add the feeds to your feed readers (and some Web browsers, such as Firefox®) include:

  • When you end up on a RSS page with XML tags all over the place, copy the URL at the top of your screen and paste it into your feed reader. More on this in the feed reader section.
  • Alternatively, you can right-mouse-click on the icon and select “Copy Link Location” (Firefox users) or “Copy Shortcut” (Microsoft® Internet Explorer® users.)

Feed reader for firefox :

favorite firefox plug-in is sage , do a google search and you will find a ton of alternative feed readers that sweets your taste . The installation and usage are really very simple , but if you meet any resistance , drop me a request and I ‘ll help you . Windows IE (bouch-bouch) :)  also supports rss feeds .

Feed readers: Stand-alone applications :

Stand-alone applications are programs that you install on your computer just like an e-mail program such as Lotus Notes® or Outlook®. The feed reader applications are very lightweight and usually run in the background. Most feed readers will have some sort of notification system through a sound or pop-up window in the bottom right corner.SharpReader [Free] and FeedDemon just to mention a couple stand-alone readers

Feed readers: Web portals :

A very popular free service with a large user base is Google Reader , it offers these features:

  • Keep track of your favorite websites
  • Share with your friends
  • Read anywhere, anytime ( on your mobile) .

Resources :

  • RSS (file format): Read Wikipedia’s excellent article detailing the history and differences of RSS file formats.
  • RSS Quick summary: See Sam Ruby’s summary of the differences between various RSS versions and specifications with lists of elements and attributes.
  • Building Applications with RSS, Atom, and the Atom API: Check out this presentation given at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Available for download in Adobe PDF format.
  • The RSS Quick Start Guide for Educators: Discover great information on how to distribute knowledge through RSS whether you work for a company or are an educator.
  • RSS and Atom Resources: Explore these Lockergnome resources to will get you up and running with syndication, including a long list of news aggregators.
  • Live Bookmarks: Get more information on Firefox’s support of this tool that delivers updates to you as soon as they are available.
  • RSS Builder: Create simple RSS 2.0 tags around static content with this free program. A similar tool, RSS Channel Editor, creates RSS tags from a Web form.
  • Check out these official specification Web sites on RSS and Atom:


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