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RSS & How to Use It (part 1)


Have you ever read an article, intended to explain RSS in simple terms that, begins well, but soon descends into confusing jargon or information overload?

If so, take heart, I was in the same place a few months ago.

Often the best way to understand something, is to use it. RSS is no exception.

So rather than try and create a definitive explanation of RSS, this article will tell you how to use it. I guarantee once you've done so, everything will that much clearer.

If a website you visit utilizes RSS, there are a number of ways it will communicate this.

The most common way is to show a little orange button with the letters XML.

Alternatively, you may see words such as "ATOM", "RSS", "Site Feed" or variations on these.

What they have in common is that they will link to a webpage that, in most browsers, looks like gibberish.

It doesn't matter one way or another, what is important is the address of the web page they link to.

To demonstrate, I will relate how to read a site feed for my website, The Nettle Blog. Don't confuse RSS with blogs (web logs). They are two separate concepts. The only reason you see them together so often, is that blogs are the perfect website to take advantage of site feeds. More on that later. Here we go?

Click on this link to go the site feed for The Nettle Blog. Ignore the content in the window, just make a note of the URL in the web address bar. It should read: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thenettle

Now you've got the web address for the site feed, keep it safe somewhere. You'll need it again in a moment.

The next step is to use an RSS reader to make sense of the site feed. There are lots of these available and if you are a heavy user you would probably want to purchase a nice piece of software.

But to begin with, start with something simple and free. Start with Bloglines.

Go to www.bloglines.com/register/ and create a new account.

From the "My Feeds" section of your account you can add new site feeds you want to keep track of.

Select "ADD", enter the URL you copied and hit "Subscribe". You can preview the results, but skip that stage for now. Select "Subscribe" again and the title of the site feed will be transferred to the left-hand window.

Well done. You have now subscribed to your first RSS feed.

To read it just click on the title and you can view all the messages in that feed within a selected time period. The feed will most likely record news related to the website the feed belongs to.

In this instance, the site feed to The Nettle Blog records each new entry to my blog. If you find something of interest, most entries have a clickable link you can follow.

Anytime you find a website you like with a site feed, make a note of the URL for that site feed and add it to your Bloglines folder.

Now comes the clever bit.

In the left-hand column of your account is an "Extras" list. Select Download Notifier and choose the correct file to download the Bloglines Notifier This file is only 100k so any half-decent connection should complete the download in just a few seconds.

If the download is successful, you should see a small, blue icon with the letter "B". Double-clicking it will short-cut you to Bloglines.

Right-click on the icon and you can adjust the settings. Specify how often you want Bloglines to check messages for you.

When Bloglines checks your site feeds and finds that one or more have been updated, a little chime will play and the Bloglines icon will show a little red marker. This means one of the feeds you have subscribed to has something new to say.

So there you have it. A spam-free, hassle-free way to keep track of websites you have an interest in. Providing of course, that they have a site feed. If they don't, ask them why not.

Part two of this article will show webmaster and ezine publishers how they can easily publish a site feed for their website and track the visitors, free of charge.

David Congreave is owner of The Nettle Ezine, the newsletter for the home business -- online.

David lives in Leeds, in the United Kingdom with his wife Leanne.


TODAYS NEWS BY OFFICEJAX FREE ADVERTISING AND AD EXCHANGE SOLUTIONSMORE RESOURCES updated Tue. April / 23 / 2024

The Iconfactory Launches Project Tapestry, a Kickstarter Campaign to Create a Universal Inbox for RSS, Social Media ... - MacStories
The Iconfactory Launches Project Tapestry, a Kickstarter Campaign to Create a Universal Inbox for RSS, Social Media ...  MacStories

Heads Up – AWS News Blog RSS Feed Change | AWS News Blog - AWS Blog
Heads Up – AWS News Blog RSS Feed Change | AWS News Blog  AWS Blog

Refined.blog: A Curated List of RSS Feeds for Software Engineering Blogs - WP Tavern
Refined.blog: A Curated List of RSS Feeds for Software Engineering Blogs  WP Tavern

What Is an RSS Feed? (And Where to Get It) - Lifewire
What Is an RSS Feed? (And Where to Get It)  Lifewire

Madan Das – the RSS Leader who could say No - The Times of India
Madan Das – the RSS Leader who could say No  The Times of India

Not a Blog - George R.R. Martin
Not a Blog  George R.R. Martin

How to Weave the Artisan Web | Whatever - John Scalzi's Whatever
How to Weave the Artisan Web | Whatever  John Scalzi's Whatever

Twitterfeed : Bringing RSS to Twitter for Every Blogger - Search Engine Journal
Twitterfeed : Bringing RSS to Twitter for Every Blogger  Search Engine Journal

All Things Considered - NPR
All Things Considered  NPR

The podcast revolution — Harvard Gazette - Harvard Gazette
The podcast revolution — Harvard Gazette  Harvard Gazette

Follow your favorite news, blogs and webcomics without Twitter - Cult of Mac
Follow your favorite news, blogs and webcomics without Twitter  Cult of Mac

Subscribe to Foreign Blogs in your Native Language with Google Scripts - Digital Inspiration - Digital Inspiration
Subscribe to Foreign Blogs in your Native Language with Google Scripts - Digital Inspiration  Digital Inspiration

In the Pipeline by Derek Lowe - In the Pipeline
In the Pipeline by Derek Lowe  In the Pipeline

15 Companies That Really Get Corporate Blogging — SitePoint - SitePoint
15 Companies That Really Get Corporate Blogging — SitePoint  SitePoint

Read Salon's blogs in your RSS reader - Salon
Read Salon's blogs in your RSS reader  Salon

Apartment Therapy | Saving the world, one room at a time - Apartment Therapy
Apartment Therapy | Saving the world, one room at a time  Apartment Therapy

Mozilla plans to remove RSS feed reader and Live Bookmarks support from Firefox - Ghacks
Mozilla plans to remove RSS feed reader and Live Bookmarks support from Firefox  Ghacks

Round up - BBC
Round up  BBC

Fraidycat is a fantastic new app for keeping tabs on your favorite internet gems - The Verge
Fraidycat is a fantastic new app for keeping tabs on your favorite internet gems  The Verge

Resources | Insights - Mandiant
Resources | Insights  Mandiant

Hey now lets users create blogs and newsletters right from their emails - The Verge
Hey now lets users create blogs and newsletters right from their emails  The Verge

SCOTUSblog - Independent News & Analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court - SCOTUSblog
SCOTUSblog - Independent News & Analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court  SCOTUSblog

20 years of Safari: A visual history - Cult of Mac
20 years of Safari: A visual history  Cult of Mac

The Data Digest: Usage Of RSS Feeds - Forrester
The Data Digest: Usage Of RSS Feeds  Forrester

Discover new information and inspiration with Search, no query required - The Keyword | Google Product and Technology News
Discover new information and inspiration with Search, no query required  The Keyword | Google Product and Technology News

‏‏Golf Channel - NBC Sports
‏‏Golf Channel  NBC Sports

Star Wars News, Articles & Quizzes - StarWars.com
Star Wars News, Articles & Quizzes  StarWars.com

Tech Guide: How to read RSS feeds - ZDNet
Tech Guide: How to read RSS feeds  ZDNet

RSS must discard its anti-democratic-secular India agenda - The Indian Express
RSS must discard its anti-democratic-secular India agenda  The Indian Express

Official Seattle Mariners Website - MLB.com
Official Seattle Mariners Website  MLB.com

I Grew Up Around RSS Folk; Here’s What I Know About Them - Swarajya
I Grew Up Around RSS Folk; Here’s What I Know About Them  Swarajya

NetNewsWire is the best RSS reader for iPhone, iPad and Mac - Cult of Mac
NetNewsWire is the best RSS reader for iPhone, iPad and Mac  Cult of Mac

Yahoo Mail RSS Reader (Screenshots!) Integrates Blogs into Email - Search Engine Journal
Yahoo Mail RSS Reader (Screenshots!) Integrates Blogs into Email  Search Engine Journal

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh joins micro-blogging site Koo, would make all major announcements from the ‘Swadeshi’ social media platform - Organiser
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh joins micro-blogging site Koo, would make all major announcements from the ‘Swadeshi’ social media platform  Organiser

ACLU News & Commentary - ACLU
ACLU News & Commentary  ACLU

RSS’s standardised Hinduism – Part 4 - The Times of India
RSS’s standardised Hinduism – Part 4  The Times of India

RSS’s standardised Hinduism – Part 1 - The Times of India
RSS’s standardised Hinduism – Part 1  The Times of India

An Interview With Allie Lazar The Most Famous Food Blogger In Buenos Aires - The Culture Trip
An Interview With Allie Lazar The Most Famous Food Blogger In Buenos Aires  The Culture Trip

The Editors: RSS feeds for BBC News correspondent pages - BBC
The Editors: RSS feeds for BBC News correspondent pages  BBC

Feed Me Featured, Reviews Film Threat - Film Threat
Feed Me Featured, Reviews Film Threat  Film Threat

RSS is not just antithetical to Muslims, but to a democratic-secular India as well - The Indian Express
RSS is not just antithetical to Muslims, but to a democratic-secular India as well  The Indian Express

Colossal — The best of art, craft, and visual culture since 2010. - Colossal
Colossal — The best of art, craft, and visual culture since 2010.  Colossal

Marginal REVOLUTION - Small Steps Toward A Much Better World - Marginal Revolution
Marginal REVOLUTION - Small Steps Toward A Much Better World  Marginal Revolution

BBC Comedy Blog - BBC
BBC Comedy Blog  BBC

Remezcla - Our Thing - Remezcla
Remezcla - Our Thing  Remezcla

RSS bets on small shakhas in hinterland to make it big in TN - The Times of India
RSS bets on small shakhas in hinterland to make it big in TN  The Times of India

Narendra Modi behind anti-Gadkari campaign, blogs RSS ideologue - India Today
Narendra Modi behind anti-Gadkari campaign, blogs RSS ideologue  India Today

UK Human Rights Blog - 1 Crown Office Row - UK Human Rights Blog
UK Human Rights Blog - 1 Crown Office Row  UK Human Rights Blog

PM interacts with Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar awardees - Narendra Modi
PM interacts with Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar awardees  Narendra Modi

Google UK - Google
Google UK  Google

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