Talking About RSS
Everybody's Talking About RSS
No matter if you call it "Really Simple
Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary," RSS is definitely
all the rage right now online. With email filtering, IP blocking
and the newest "Can Spam Act," everyone's scampering for
a better way to get their messages across to their subscribers.
With RSS, the customers don't have to come to
your website or open their inboxes to get your latest news and updates.
Once they subscribe to your "feed," the news comes to
them automatically. But wait; I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Let's get back to the basics.
RSS is an XML based format that originated with
Netscape. To use RSS, you must first create what's called a "feed."
This is basically a file which you upload to your server. RSS feeds
end with .rss rdf or .xml extensions and can be created by hand.
An RSS file needs to include the headlines, links, and summaries
of the content you want to distribute.
Once a feed has been created, other computers
can subscribe to your "channel" and read your updates
using what's called an "Aggregator" or "news reader."
Most feeds consist of a link with a short summary
to click on to read the entire article. To let people know your
site offers an RSS feed, you place an orange XML icon on your site
linked to the url of your feed. You'll also want to list your feed
with various RSS search engines that exist just for the purpose
of collecting a database of feeds.
So what kinds of things can you turn into feeds?
I thought you'd never ask. Any area of your site that changes on
a regular basis is a good candidate. Things like newsletters, news
announcements, site updates, anything that you update regularly.
If you have no idea how to create a feed, this
site will do it for you:
Just type in the HTML page you wish to make a
feed from and it converts it to RSS for you automatically.
Another great tool that will create a RSS feed
for you is
http://feedster.com/builder.php?next=cfintro. This works especially
well if you need a feed of your third party hosted Blog, for example
There's also a script that will convert any HTML
doc into RSS -- Go to
http://kalsey.com/tools/blogfeed/. If you'd like to validate
your feed, you can do so at
A News Reader is simply a software program that
brings what's new straight to you in an organized, easy to read
Let's take a look at some of your options when
it comes to readers and what's available to you.
Free; it collects news in the background and
warns you with a popup in your system tray when there's new information
2) Ampheta Desk:
Free, cross platform aggregator.
For Windows; reads headlines from thousands of
4) Sharp Reader:
Free reader for the .Net Framework created by
5) Newz Crawler:
Web News Reader and browser. There's a two week
free trial. You can purchase it for only $24.95.
6) Feed Demon:
Download a free trial or purchase for only $29.
Written by Nick Bradbury, creator of Top Style and Hoesite. Feed
Demon is loaded with great features.
7) Feed Reader:
Freeware; Windows app that supports all RSS feeds
8) Blog Lines:
A web based Blog and newsfeed reader. No software
to install to read your feeds; just visit the site and log into
Free Windows news reader that integrates with
10) Feed Readers:
Lockergnome's offering in the news reader field.
Seven day free trial. Two versions available: pro or standard with
pricing ranging from $5.00 to $15.00.
If these options aren't enough, you'll want to
check out the full list of readers over at
http://www.lights.com/weblogs/rss.html If you'd like to have
feeds sent directly to your inbox instead of downloading a reader,
Once you download a reader you need feeds to
subscribe to. Check out
http://Syndic8.com for thousands of choices.
So now that you understand the technology, what
are the advantages and disadvantages of RSS? Here's a big one: your
subscribers don't have to give up their email addresses, which is
great for those with privacy concerns. RSS puts control of subscriptions
directly in the hands of your users. When they wish to unsubscribe
they just delete the feed from their reader.
It also reduces the risk of Spam accusations.
If you're an ezine publisher and you don't have to worry about getting
your messages past all of the filters in place by users and ISP's.
The disadvantages are that you cannot include
personalization, and you have no way of knowing how many people
are subscribing to your feed. Also, at this time, RSS may seem a
bit complicated to the novice user and it has not become widely
adopted by Web users.
you haven't looked into RSS, now's the time to consider this technology
as another avenue for reaching out to your website visitors, and
keeping them informed
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