RSS user guide
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a new IT tool you can use to have information sent to you, rather than having to go and look for it. Many websites, including Tenders Electronic Daily (TED), offer RSS as a way to have headlines delivered to you. This guide sets out the basic principles of RSS and helps familiarize you with how to use it.
What is RSS?
RSS is a format for syndicating content and metadata over the Internet. It is commonly used to share headlines and links to news articles. With news articles, the actual article is not usually shared, but metadata about the article is; this metadata can include a headline, a URL, or a summary. RSS is an important tool for publishers because feeds can be used to syndicate content, and to integrate third-party content into your site. RSS is a dialect of XML. All RSS files must conform to the XML 1.0 specification, as published on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website.
Here is a typical example of how RSS is used:
- A publisher wishes to publicize some subject matter.
- They create an RSS channel for their content.
- In this channel, they include items for web pages they want to promote.
- This channel can be read by remote applications, and converted into headlines and links. These links can be incorporated into new web pages, or read in dedicated readers.
- Web surfers see the links on various sites, click on them, and go to the original publisher's site.
RSS feeds enable you to have update notifications delivered directly to your desktop via the news aggregator software program of your choice. RSS offers the advantage of convenience, because you can subscribe to feeds from several Internet sites and automatically combine a number of headlines from all the sources into one list. This lets you quickly browse the list of new content without visiting each site.
RSS-aware programs are available for various operating systems. Client-side readers and aggregators are typically constructed as standalone programs or extensions to existing programs such as web browsers. Many browsers have integrated functionalities supporting RSS feeds.
Web-based feed readers and news aggregators such as YourLiveWire require no software to be installed and make the user's feeds available on any computer with web access. There are also search engines for content published via web feeds like Feedster or Blogdigger.
On web pages, web feeds (RSS or Atom) are typically designated by the word Subscribe, an orange rectangle, , or by the letters or . Many news aggregators such as My Yahoo! publish subscription buttons () for use on web pages to simplify the process of adding news feeds.
Some browsers, including Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for feeds 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 visit their websites.
For more information about RSS and available software supporting it please visit: