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What is RSS?

Introduction

The amount of information in the WWW is so big that it has become practically impossible to follow the changes on interesting websites. Whoever relies on information from the net has to spend a lot of time on getting it day by day.

This is why RSS was developed. Visitors can find changed and new content on a particular website more easily and content providers can publish their news in a simple and structured way, even if their websites are large.

With newest browsers or special software (RSS readers) you can collect and subscribe to news feeds in the internet. The time consuming visits to the sites can then be done by your pc. Similar to your e-mail program your RSS reader will connect to the pages you subscribed, download the updated news and present them in a nicely structured list. You only have to visit a website with your browser if the news feed shows you an interesting new page (usually you will find a link there).

Web sites that offer news feeds usually say so on their home page, offering a link mentioning RSS, news feeds and the possibility to subscribe. Very often you will find an orange logo, which in its early versions looks something like this:

RSSXMLATOM
 

Mozilla Firefox has in the meantime made this symbol popular, which has been picked up by Internet Explorer:
RSS-logo

New browsers show this logo in the adress field or on one of their menu bars.

Software

If you follow such a link in your browser you end up with an unintelligible mixture of code and text. (Should you absolutely have to see this for yourself just click on one of the orange logos on this page; they lead to blechtrottel brodaktschns' very own RSS feed :-). In order to read news feeds you need either the new functionality in a new webbrowser or an RSS reader.

Basically there are three kinds of programs:

  1. modern browsers, best search help for RSS, feed, feeds
  2. separate readers, which are full programs in their own right
  3. plugins and add-ons, which enable one of your programs (web browser or mail client) to read news feeds


The RSS extension Sage for Mozilla Firefox

You also get websites in the internet that offer RSS-reading services. Usually you have to register with them. So it is up to your personal preferences what kind of program you want to use. A good list of software available can be found at www.rss-specifications.com

Background

RSS has been developed by different people. The accronym can stand for not only Really Simple Syndication, but also Rich Site Summary or RDF Site Sumary. Behind all these there is markup technoloy, namely RDF, RSS and/or ATOM, which are all children of XML. There is no universal standard yet. But at least the newer readers are capable of handling all formats, so this does not affect the user.

Further Information

At www.rss-specifications.com and many other websites you can find detailed further informationen on RSS. All these sources describe RSS for webmasters; we have not been able to find a good introduction for users. That is why we have this page here at blechtrottel brodaktschns. We hope that our visitors will classify it as good and useful ...