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What are RSS and Web Feeds?

What is RSS?
What are Web Feeds?
How do I use a Web Feed Reader?
How do I get a Web Feed Reader?

What is RSS?

RSS (most commonly translated as "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary") is a format for delivering regularly changing web content such as blog entries, neuigkeiten headlines, audio and video—in a standardised format.

What are Web Feeds?

An RSS document (which is called a "feed," "web feed" or "channel") includes full or summarised text, plus metadata including publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favoured websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

Web feeds allow you to see when websites have added new content. You can get the latest headlines, video or product updates in one place, as soon as its published, without having to visit the websites from which the feed originates.

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How do I use a Web Feed Reader?

In general, the first thing you need is something called a Web Feed Reader. This is a piece of software that checks the feeds and lets you read any new information that may have been added to your favourite sites.

There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, some of which are downloadable applications, and some that work with your mobile device. Some popular Web Feed Readers include Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader and FeedDemon (Windows) NetNewsWired (Mac, iphone) and NewsGator Go! (mobile).

There are also a number of Web-based Feed Readers available. My Yahoo and Bloglines are popular web-based feed readers. Google Reader is also web-based, as well as mobile device accessible. Browser-based Web Feed Readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail. Mobile device Web Feed Readers allow you the same functionality, but may be limited to the number of feeds they can track.

RSS Sample

If you click on an RSS button on a web page, you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including dragging the URL of the feed into your feed reader or by copying and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your feed reader. Most sites that offer feeds use this familiar orange button, but some may have just a regular 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 their services, please check their sites.


How do I get a Web Feed Reader?

There is a range of different Web Feed Readers available and new versions are appearing all the time. Different Web Feed Readers work on various operating systems, e-mail services, mobile devices, etc. so you will need to choose one that will work best for you.

Here are some of the most popular cross-platform Web Feed Readers:

Get Google Reader Get Yahoo Reader Get Bloglines Reader





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