An Introduction to RSSSaturday, December 22nd, 2007
RSS is a relatively new phenomenon on the Internet. Here we explain what it is, and how you can use it to improve your web experience.
What is RSS?
RSS stands for Resource (Description Framework) Site Summary, but more often is expanded to Really Simple Syndication. However, the expansions of the abbreviation are not helpful in understanding what RSS is. RSS is a web-based technology that allows content to be actively pulled from the Internet, rather than to be passively downloaded as is the case with a web browser. To work RSS requires an RSS reader, which is a small programme that will query a web server and request the RSS content (also known as an RSS feed). RSS readers can be separate software programmes, but are increasingly integrated into web-browsers (e.g. Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7), and email clients (e.g. Thunderbird, Outlook 2007).
Why is RSS useful?
RSS can save you a lot of time. For example, if you regularly check a news website for stories you are interested in, you have to surf to the website, and look through the news stories to see if there are new headlines. If the website provides an RSS feed, and you subscribe, then you can check the feed (which may be in the form of a dropdown menu) in an instant. If there is a new story or one that interests you, you can then click on the item and visit the website. The same applies to a blog that you are interested in that is posted irregularly. Instead of navigating to the website, you can quickly check to see if any new blog has been posted. RSS feeds are useful wherever there is rapidly changing content or irregular changing content that you are interested in following. And the greater the number of websites that you normally check, the more time you will save by using RSS.
How do you use RSS?
To use RSS, the website in question must provide an RSS feed. You can see this by looking for a link saying “RSS” or by looking for the RSS logo (see the example below).
By clicking on an RSS link, you should be shown a page that will give you options on how you want to receive the RSS feed. For example, you may prefer the RSS feeds to be drawn by your email client, or you may prefer to have them in your web browser, or even on your desktop.
Here is a link that Real Free Websites has that feeds new articles and blog entries: