A Guide To RSSPosted on: 27 November 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Understand the ins and outs of Really Simple Syndication and learn how it can benefit you.
RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a format for delivering regularly changing web content such as blog entries, news headlines, audio and video. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other publishers such as 50connect, syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.
The RSS document which is known as a ‘feed’, ‘web feed’ or ‘channel’ includes full or summarized text, plus the publishing dates and authorship for the article.
The Benefits For Using RSS
RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually and you ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site's email newsletter.
The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and includes big names like Yahoo News as well as us at 50connect.
What Do I Need?
Many web browsers support RSS feeds, saving the need for a separate piece of RSS reader software. In addition to the ease of use, RSS enabled browsers can detect relevant RSS feeds, adding them automatically if you wish to do so.
RSS reader applications work in the same way as RSS enabled browsers, but run on your PC or Mac as standalone software. If you prefer to read RSS feeds on the web, they can be added via many dashboard tools, such as Google Reader, Bloglines, iGoogle and My Yahoo.
If your web browser doesn’t support RSS feeds, in general, the first thing you need is something called an RSS Feed Reader or a News Aggregator. These pieces of software check the feeds and let you read any new articles that have been added. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.
Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer; whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your email using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.
Once you have chosen a news reader, all you have to do is to decide what content you want it to receive. For example, if you would like the latest BBC News Entertainment stories, simply visit the Entertainment news section and you will notice an orange button on the top right hand side. Click on the button and follow the onscreen instructions to add it to your feeds.
If you click on the RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.
Some browsers, including Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.
How Do I Get A Feed Reader?
There is a range of different news readers available and new versions are appearing all the time.
Different news readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work with your computer.
Below is a list of news and RSS Feed readers and applications available to download.
50connect’s RSS Feeds
You can keep up to date with the latest 50connect articles from all the channels across the site via our own RSS feeds.
Add an RSS feed to a reader or compatible web browser to receive instant notifications of new content to view on the website. Each feed entry displays a headline, description and URL back to 50connect. RSS feeds are the simple and free way to access the content that is important to you, as soon as it becomes available.
If you are looking to add all of 50connect’s content to your feed the logon to the 50connect homepage at www.50connect.co.uk and click the orange icon in your toolbar and follow the onscreen instructions to subscribe.
If you’d rather pick and choose the channels you want to receive feeds from, just follow the same process but locate on to the channel page you want before clicking the orange icon. For example, if you were looking for Money & Retirement feeds you should access the main Money channel page at www.50connect.co.uk/money_and_retirement before clicking on the orange icon.
Repeat this process for all the channels you are interested in, including the Christmas and Competitions channel to receive the latest news, features and articles without having to locate them yourself.
Below is a video guide from YouTube to help you get up and running in the art of RSS feeds.
Do you use RSS Feeds? Which reader do you use? Do you have any recommendations for other readers?
If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box or share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.
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