What is RSS and How to Read RSS Feeds

Everyone loves luxury. Tools that make life simpler are always welcome. Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is one such tool that has caught on rapidly, simply because it is “really simple” to use like the name suggests.

What is RSS? RSS brings updated information straight to your desktop. All you have to do is subscribe to them and you will be intimated as and when there are updates. You can now keep yourself abreast of news, blogs, job listings, personals and classifieds with the least of efforts from your end.

Websites now are updated continually; sometimes, several times a day. RSS saves you the trouble of going over to websites regularly. Instead, whenever there is an update you are intimated almost instantly. Thus, this certainly is a “really simple”, hassle free process of conveying information.

Increasing traffic, gathering and distributing news are some of the common problems that webmasters face. RSS is a simple solution for all. It is a lightweight XML format for sharing headlines and other web content. Each RSS text file contains both static information about your site and dynamic information in the form of new content from time to time.

RSS is another language by itself. But it is the end product that one is looking for. You can conveniently ignore the code just like the source code behind a webpage.

Types of RSS readers

Standalone readers

Standalone applications simply process RSS feeds. It is a new application that you can populate as much as you want. However, you are going to have to keep this additional application open on your desktop.

In a standalone reader, you will notice a toolbar with 3 window panes much like the preview mode in Microsoft Outlook. The subscribed RSS feeds are displayed towards the left side which can be organized into folders and categories. The upper-right panel shows the list of articles under the category selected while the lower-right panel shows the content of the article. Some standalone applications can be configured to send you an email or dialog popup window as and when there is an update.

Plug-in readers

Plug-in applications work within an existing program like Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer or Firefox. The reader merely becomes a new component of the application already opened. However, in case you have already clogged your system with many bookmarks and favorites, feeds might be an overload into your application.

For plug-in readers, a column for channels and a display area for a headline, a brief description and a URL are included in the desired application. In case of Microsoft Outlook, display only the headlines and summaries within the e-mail application and open an internet explorer to display the full content. In case of Internet Explorer application, the chosen article is automatically displayed within the browser. However, this tends to replace your Favorites bookmark collection.

How do you subscribe to an RSS feed?

Here are simple steps that you have to follow in order to subscribe to an RSS feed:

o Click the feed button of the desired webpage.

o Now go to your newsreader, choose the category where you want this particular feed to be placed. Example: Sports, Entertainment, Academics etc.

o From the File menu, select New or New Channel. In most cases, the URL will get automatically pasted in the wizard, else, manually paste (right click and select paste) the link yourself.

o Then, follow the instructions provided. This will differ based on the newsreader chosen by you.

The reader will take care of the rest, once you have pasted the URL link. It will provide you with updates once the link has been fed in.

Customize options

When too many articles are accumulated through various feed subscriptions, the process of searching becomes difficult. For this, there is a Filter/Search bar. Type in keywords and the reader will throw up articles that contain your keywords. To go back to the full article list, click the drop down control for the filter bar and set the keyword to None.

You can also save an article by selecting “Copy to News Bin” option from the Edit menu. This can be accessed from the left hand panel.

There are several RSS reader software products in the market. They have interfaces that look resemble e-mail programs. Some of them are free while others are available at a reasonable cost.

Aggie, Ampheta Desk, Awasu, Feed Demon, Feed Reader, Headline Viewer, News Gator, Newzcrawler, Radio UserLand, Syndirella, Wildgrape NewsDesk, Web-Based Aggregators, Bloglines, Google Reader, Gregarius, My Yahoo, News Is Free, Rocket RSS Reader (RocketNews) are some of the most common RSS readers. You can use these readers to subscribe to feeds.

Some of the readers have the ability to set a watch, that is, an automatic search through all your incoming feeds for a specific keyword. Whenever a feed has the keyword specified by you, it is put in the watch list so that you can read up on your most sought after articles.

Over a period of time, you will have more RSS feeds in your reader than you can possible keep track of. Simply delete the title to do away with a feed you’re no longer interested in. If you delete a feed permanently like this, you will not receive any updates or information from the particular publisher unless you re-subscribe to the feed.

There are several web directories of RSS software available online. So if you are looking at feeds related to specific topics, you can run a search to find dozens of links pertaining to what you are looking at.

All in all, RSS is a technology combined with convenience. This amazing combination ensures that you get all the information you want on a silver platter by the blink of the eye! It helps you keep up with information in today’s fast paced world. Get started with RSS now!

Source by Jeremy A Gislason

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