RSS - RSS Syndication
RSS Syndication or RSS Newsfeeds (RSS Feeds for short) all
refer to the same thing. There are two parts to the process, the
publisher, and the consumer. The publisher produces a small text
file in a special format that lists the title and address of an
article or resource published on the World Wide Web. The consumer
uses a program, usually called an aggregator to read and display
the contents of that simple text file, with links to the web page.
Or the consumer may visit a website that includes an aggregator
program, and view the results as a web page. Members of Yahoo.com,
for example, can set their personal 'My Yahoo' pages to display
the contents of any RSS feeds they select.
That is all there is to it. Simple. That's why some
people say RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication.'
Some confusion has arisen because an RSS feed may
be used in several ways. Calling it a 'newsfeed' is the first mistake,
since RSS is used for much more than news. The most common situation
is for the RSS items listed to have a short title, link to the original
web page referred to, and a short description of the contents of
that web page. But other people are including the complete contents
of their resource directly in the RSS feed. So the feed may contain
a graphic image of a cartoon, an entire post to a weblog (or blog),
or the complete contents of a newsletter, rather than just a link
back to those resources on a web site. Other sites leave out the
description, and just list titles linked back to their website.
And some versions of RSS allow you to leave out the title, so long
as you have a description.
Speaking of 'versions' of RSS, that is the source
of even more confusion. RSS began with version 0.90, and was called
'RDF Site Summary' -- the RDF refers to 'Resource Description Framework,'
the method of labeling different parts of the file. This early version
was updated and changed through various incarnations, including
0.91, 0.92, 0.93 and 0.94, and they began to call RSS 'Really Simple
Syndication.' Then someone came along with a different format, slightly
more complicated, and called it RSS version 1.0. Supporters of version
0.94 didn't like the implication that 1.0 was somehow an advance
on 0.94 when in actuality it was a completely different format,
so they came up with version 2.0 which was an improved version of
0.94, but still unlike 1.0. Rather than take sides in all this squabbling,
someone else came up with their own version and called it Atom,
to distance themselves from the RSS battles. Someone else developed
Blogrolls that use OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language). Most
of these formats are either loosely or strictly based on XML, the
parent mark-up scheme.
None of this confusion of method and purpose has helped
spread this really useful tool. Most RSS aggregators can read any
of these formats, so the situation is not as hopeless as it may
seem, but many folks still throw the whole thing out when they can't
figure out exactly how it is supposed to work.
we use version 1.0 because it is endorsed by W3C as being supportive
of the 'semantic web.' For the casual user however, the version
is really not important. SharedRSS is a simple site that performs
a very powerful function ... it brings the benefits of RSS syndication
to all those who publish websites, but who add new material too
infrequently to warrant having their own RSS feed.
RSS Syndication was designed to help people find out
about new content on the web, long before the search engines get
around to finding it. It makes it easy for people to find out about
new content that interests them, without having to return to the
search engines and wade through all the material they have seen
before. For sites with frequently changing content, it has worked
well for them to create their own RSS feed and update it as new
content is added to their website. But what about all those sites
that only add an occasional new article or story to their website,
or who publish a newsletter once per month? Or those who just can't
take the time to figure the ins and outs of formatting an RSS feed?
An RSS feed that only gets updated once every few months is of little
value; very few people will add it to their search list in their
aggregator. Shared RSS solves this problem by lumping together articles
from different sites covering the same topic, and lets them announce
the availability of their new material in a feed shared with others
publishing on the same topic. This makes the feeds more useful to
the consumer, so they are more likely to add the link to their aggregator.
It benefits the publisher by making more people aware of their material
as soon as it is put on-line. ________________________________________________
Andrew J. Morris is the owner and creator of SharedRSS -- a website
that allows all website owners to syndicate their newly added material
for FREE. http://www.sharedrss.com/