What is RSS?
RSS means Really Simple Syndication i.e. it’s a Really Simple way to track or Syndicate updated information on a website.
For example, if you wanted to follow the progress of this ride, but didn’t want to keep checking the site, the RSS feed will update you daily with the latest news and information. It saves you time and makes keeping up-to-date a cinch.
How does it Work?
Let’s say you used to receive a Newsletter via your inbox once a week. The email kept you up-to-date but it was only a Readers Digest for the past week and didn’t really keep you on top of things. Just like you now check a news site for the latest headlines, a sites RSS feed provides the latest headlines for that website as soon as they happen. The feed continually looks for new stories/posts on a site and then updates all its subscribers. The feed only provides the most relevant information and strips out the extraneous. Therefore, all you receive is the information you need, (i.e. headline, date, brief summary and perhaps even images, videos or a podcast).
How to I subscribe to receive a feed?
Easy! There are two easy ways. One is to use an offline or desktop reader like Newsgator that regularly checks a site’s feed for new updates. The other is to use an online service like My Yahoo to do it all for you. Many websites offer online services and some of the most popular include Bloglines, My Yahoo and Newsvine. For example:
a) To use My Yahoo, go to your My Yahoo webpage (you’ll have to register if you haven’t already) and look for a button called “Add open content from around the web by URL” (what a mouthful) and click on it.
The box on the following screen will ask you for a feed to follow. Now go back to R4E, click on the orange RSS button above and cut & paste the url in your browser address bar into the Add Url box in Yahoo. (see below)
Click “Finished” and you???e done. You can now check your My Yahoo page whenever you want to see the latest site headlines from Riding for Education. Alternatively, you can click on the “subscribe” link on the left of this page to automate the whole process for you!
b) Using an offline ‘feed reader’ is very similar and almost as easy. There are many popular programs:
To use, install any of the above readers on your system and follow the instructions to install the R4E feed. If you like, you could also use Google to find more readers to suit your taste.
This is of course just the tip of the iceberg and there’s so much more you can do with RSS. A website could have many different feeds, each feeds representing a different part of the website. Eg. the BBC has feeds for the latest News headlines categorised to make keeping up with your interesting a piece of cake.
Feeds can also provide full content or just a summary. They can also include images, podcasts and video blogs. This all means that if you use an offline reader, you can set your computer to download content from a website while you are at work or sleeping. Then, whenever you want to read an article, or listen to a podcast it’s sat there ready for you on your computer. Bingo. It’s a better way to make the internet work for you.
Imagine you had one website that you could checkup daily to give the latest news from your favourite websites across the Web. My Yahoo is just one of the sites that can bring you this possibility courtesy of RSS. To follow the feed for any site, just look for any of the example feed symbols below on your favourite websites and use the instructions above to never fall out of touch.
1. Explaination on Wikipedia
2. The Definitive Guide to RSS
3. The Actual Website “What is RSS?”
4. The Feedburner Outlook
5. RSS explained at Webreference
6. Help with RSS at Faganfinder (V. Comprehensive)
7. Feed Reader Links
8. Why should you use RSS?
9. Detailed Specification for the format
10. The Future of RSS
Note: My Yahoo is just one of many popular RSS readers in operation today and is only used here as an example.