What is RSS?

by Martin Malden

Corina, from Tall Corina asked me to provide some more information about RSS.

Thanks Corina, and here’s some information that I hope will help.  But please ask if you need more details on anything!

Really Simple Syndication

RSS has been used as the abbreviation for a number of descriptions, but the one I find easiest to remember is ‘Really Simple Syndication’.

It’s a technology that allows you to automatically syndicate information out from your blog or website, and to automatically pull information in to your blog or website.

I use RSS in both ways on my sites.  I use it on my blog to distribute new articles to everyone who has subscribed to my RSS feed and I use it on some of my sites to pull in new information each day that’s relevant to that site.

For example on my travel site I have a page on which I’ve set up an RSS feed to automatically pull in and display travel news each day.  That means that every day the latest travel news will be displaid on my travel site, without me having to do anything.

I use the outgoing RSS feed from my blog to deliver my latest articles to other sites that I have – for example my other blogs, my Squidoo lenses, and my Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and other accounts.  This means that those sites will automatically get new information on them every time I write a post.

For more details on how I do that read this article.

Outgoing RSS

All blogs have outgoing RSS feeds as part of their standard features, but I also use a service called Feedburner to make my RSS feed as easily readable as possible, to as many people as possible.

There are two primary underlying technologies that support RSS (Atom and RSS XML) and some earlier readers are not able to handle both types.

What Feedburner does is to convert an RSS feed from whichever technology it uses to one that the most RSS readers can handle.

Feedburner will also convert articles that it gets via my RSS feed into emails and sends them to people who prefer to get my articles by email.  This is a popular service, because many people still prefer to receive emails.

Incoming RSS

If you want to set up an incoming RSS feed on your website (or your blog) you will need to install a bit of code on your site and specify where you want it to take information from.

I use a service called CaRP for this.  With CaRP I specify where it must pull the information from, and how I want it displaid on my site.

Once I’ve done that CaRP will generate some code which I then paste into my web page in the location I want the information to appear.

I know it probably sounds complex but it’s really not.  And it’s well worth getting to know RSS because it can really help you to automate a lot of your work.

I hope that’s helpful information, but if not please ask, by leaving a comment.  And if I’ve missed anything in this description please leave a comment and correct me!

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