What is RSS? About RSS Feeds and RSS Readers

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What is RSS Feed?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML feed that streamlines content syndication. Also know as Rich Site Summary, it is used to publish latest or frequently updated contents like; news headlines, blog entries, new audio or video streams etc. in an industry standard format. In simple words it's a way to subscribe to websites, the contents of which you'd like to receive on an ongoing basis.

Structure of an RSS Document

The RSS document is generally composed in XML format and included title, full or summarized text, publishing date, author name, category, url of original article or news and may be more.

The following is an example of an RSS 2.0 document stream. The following information is just for explaining structure layout only and need not be true.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
  <channel>
    <title>Latest Articles</title>
    <link>http://www.webtoolhub.com/</link>
    <description>Latest SEO and Web related articles.</description>
    <language>en-us</language>
    <pubDate>Wed, 15 Mar 2009 05:30:00 GMT</pubDate>
 
    <item>
      <title>What is RSS</title>
      <link>http://www.webtoolhub.com/about-rss</link>
      <description>RSS means really simple syndication.</description>
      <pubDate>Wed, 13 Mar 2009 05:30:00 GMT</pubDate>
      <guid>http://www.webtoolhub.com/about-rss.html#item13</guid>
    </item>
 
    <item>
      <title>What is SEO</title>
      <link>http://www.webtoolhub.com/about-seo</link>
      <description>RSS means really simple syndication.</description>
      <pubDate>Wed, 13 Mar 2009 05:20:00 GMT</pubDate>
      <guid>http://www.webtoolhub.com/about-seo.html#item12</guid>
    </item>
  </channel>
</rss>

RSS Feed Readers and News Aggregators

An RSS reader or news aggregator is a software program that allows grabbing and rendering the RSS feeds in human readable form. These RSS-aware programs can automatically check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.

There are hundreds of feed readers available including both client and web based readers. Following is the list of some popular web based RSS readers.

  • FeedBurner
  • Google Reader
  • Pageflakes
  • Netvibes
  • Live.com
  • iGoogle

Once you have your favorite Feed Reader, the next step is to find the sites that syndicate content and adding their RSS feed to the list of feeds your Feed Reader checks. Many sites display a small icon on their webpages with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF or a small RSS icon in the address bar of a browser to let the visitors know that a feed is available.

Adding RSS Feed Link

To provide a link to an RSS Feed, the following tag should be placed in the 'head' section of an XHTML web document.

<link href="rss.xml" type="application/rss+xml" rel="alternate" title="RSS Feed for Latest Articles" />

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Mike Smith writes for WebToolHub.com. He loves to golf, cook and explore music in his free time.

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