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RSS 101
Mark's Really Simple Explanation

There are basically two things you can do with an RSS feed: subscribe, and display the feed contents within your site. Most people will only be concerned with the former. RSS subscription greatly speeds up the process of staying up to date with your favorites sites and blogs. In order to subscribe to a feed, you will need an RSS feed reader (see list of free readers below). Feed readers keep track of what you have read and alerts you to new content when it is posted, making it easy to follow the content of many sites from one place rather than visiting dozens of bookmarks.

Free feed readers:
  • Bloglines - I prefer this web-based reader because I can use it from any computer. Bookmark the My Feeds page.

  • Feed Demon - Free software download for Windows.

  • Google Reader - Google's web-based reader. Beta version.

  • Both Firefox and Opera have integrated feed readers. IE7 will join the party upon release later this year. The Sarafi browser for Macintosh also supports RSS.
How to subscribe to an RSS feed:

Once you have your reader set up, you're ready to start adding feeds to your subscriptions. Links to RSS feeds are often identified with small orange RSS or XML graphics (examples: RSS icon XML icon RSS icon ). Clicking on the feed typically brings up a page of XML code, but don't let that bother you. This URL, or web address, of the actual feed is what your reader needs to display the feed contents. Simply copy the URL and paste it in your reader's 'Subscribe to URL' form. Some readers let you drag the URL from the browser to your reader for instant subscription.

» Partial Observer RSS Feeds


-Mark D. Johnson, Editor-in-Chief, The Partial Observer


Terms:

RSS - Really Simply Syndication, or Rich Site Summary

XML - eXtensible Markup Language - a simple and flexible text format for exchanging structured documents and data over the Internet

URL - Uniform Resource Locator - the unique, identifying address of any particular page on the Web

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