What is RSS?
Real Simple Syndication (RSS) is one of the most efficient ways to stay current with information on the Internet. In a nutshell news, blog posts, and media (i.e. - podcasts) of your choice are delivered to you. RSS works by feeding (hence, RSS feed) new information as soon as it is made published by the creator. Using RSS, you will no longer need to search for and visit each of your favorite web sites for the latest imformation, simply start using a nRSS aggregator, like Google Reader or Bloglines.
About RSSRSS feeds are based on an XML document that is read by your aggregator.
Essentially, this creates a one-stop shop for information, be it text, audio or video, a virtual multimedia newspaper if you will. For instance, if you prefer a section dedicated to a particular interest, say, raising teenagers, you can search for blogs and news articles related to raising teenagers. In a news aggregator, like Bloglines, the latest news and blog posts related to raising teenagers would appear as soon as they are made available (see image right). Similarly, you would use the RSS feeds for podcasts of interest.
The following link is an overview of RSS by the Research Channel. This site uses RSS to inform subscribers of its television broadcasts and premieres. Just think no more waiting for the latest episode of your favorite TV program, it comes to you when it is done!
Above two RSS aggregators or readers were mentioned. There are a variety of readers available to choose from. Consider your web browsing habits when deciding which reader is right for you.
Google Reader and Bloglines are two very popular and easy to use web based readers. Web-based readers are available from any computer with Internet access. Some web-based readers (like Google Reader) allows users to connect and share feed "items" with friends or colleagues. If you access the Internet from a variety of computers, you may find a web-based reader the best fit.
Other readers are desktop-based, meaning they reside on only the one computer you download and install the reader software on. The advantage to a desktop-based reader is that RSS feeds are accessible even when the Internet access is not possible. If Internet access is not available the feeds in the reader will only be updated from the last time the reader checked the feeds. Along those lines, the disadvantage of the offline, desktop-based reader is that feeds will only reside locally on one computer. Common desktop-readers are found in some of the latest web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, Flock and Opera. Using a browser for subscribing and reading feeds is a great way to get started.
Creating an RSS Feed
It is becoming very easy to develop and publish sites that have RSS feeds. So easy, in fact, that you probably will not need to create your RSS manually. If you do, the following may be helpful along the way.
- Hand Coding
If you are interested in creating a RSS feed for you Podcasts or Blog here is an example of a vaild RSS document.
<?xml version="1.0"?> <rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"> <channel> <title>ENTER YOUR TITLE HERE</title> <link>http://www.YOURSITE.com/DIRECTORY OF FILES FOR XML/</link> <description>THE TITLE OF YOUR FEED</description> <language>en-us</language> <copyright>(c) Copyright 2005 </copyright> <lastBuildDate>Wed, 7 Dec 2005 13:18:00 EST</lastBuildDate> <ttl>60</ttl> <item> <title>TITLE OF DOCUMENTS</title> <link>http://www.YOURSITE.com/DIRECTORY/FILE.mp3</link> <description>A DESRIPTION OF YOUR CONTENT</description> <pubDate>Wed, 07 Dec 2005 13:12:00 EST</pubDate> <enclosure url="http://www.YOURSITE.com/DIRECTORY/FILE.mp3" length="229" type="audio/mpeg"/> </item> <item> <title>THE FIRST ITEMS DOCUMENT TITLE</title> <link>http://www.YOURSITE.com/DIRECTORY/FILE.mp3</link> <description>A DESRIPTION OF YOUR CONTENT</description> <pubDate>Thu, 10 Nov 2005 20:48:00 EST</pubDate> <enclosure url="http://www.YOURSITE.com/DIRECTORY/FILE.mp3" length="135" type="audio/mpeg"/> </item> </channel> </rss>
Here is a basic breakdown of the elements that make up a RSS document.
There is a lot about RSS That isn't covered here, but there are some things on the web that you may find helpful in filling in the gaps. RSS 2.0 Specifications - This is from Harvard about what all the little pieces within RSS mean.
By using Feed Validator you can make sure that your RSS feed can be read by RSS aggregators.