What are RSS Feeds, Readers and Aggregators?

Herman Drost

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An RSS feed is created in a non-HTML format called XML. RSS readers or aggregators can interpret and display that coding, but Web browsers can't. Soon, RSS/XML readers will be part of every browser and e-mail software. But for now, you need a separate reader.

You use an RSS reader to bring new, constantly updated material to you, from all your favorite sites. There is no need to check whether a site has updated.

RSS feeds bring automatically updated information straight to your desktop. You can monitor news, job listings, personals, and classifieds. Thousands of sites now offer feeds, which you can identify by a small orange button that says either RSS or XML. However, if you click one of these links, you will most likely get a page full of code in your browser. To properly read the feed, you need an RSS reader.

Content published in an RSS feed is typically set up to send out notifications whenever new material is available. This makes the new content immediately available to feed readers and RSS search engines. Contrast this with ordinary web pages, which are essentially passive and generally aren't accessible to most of us until search engine crawlers find and index them. Once indexed, these pages stand relatively little chance of being read by web searchers on a frequent basis.

Instead of opening your Web browser when you sit down at the computer, you open your news feed reader, usually a 2- or 3 paned window that allows you to see at a glance which sites have added content, and to scan clickable headlines and summaries of that content. Imagine looking at update info on 10-20 sites at a single glance, and never waiting for a single page to load!

RSS Tools You Need

Here is a collection of some of the most popular newsreaders for reading article feeds, news etc

Newsreaders | Aggregators

Win users

1. RssReader (http://www.rssreader.com). It's free!
2. BlogExpress (http://www.usablelabs.com/productBlogExpress.html)
3. If you want to try several before deciding (http://www.2rss.com/readers.php)

The most important point about RSS newsreaders is that they should be fast and simple to download, install, and start adding feeds. If it's not, find one that does.

Mac users

4. NetNewsWire has a free trial and is the best of a smaller selection. (http://ranchero.com/netnewswire)

5. My Yahoo (http://my. yahoo.com)

6. MSN (http://my. msn.com)

How to Get Started With RSS

Simply right-click on the orange RSS button (control-click for Mac users) for each feed that interests you. Select Copy Shortcut ("Copy Link to Clipboard" for Mac; “Copy Link Location" if you use Firefox browser) then paste that URL into your RSS Reader.

And that's it! You're subscribed.

(If you prefer, click on the My Yahoo! or My MSN buttons to add each feed to “Your" Yahoo! or MSN. )

Now you have the ability to quickly scan the sites that interest you without being bombarded by unwanted email messages.

Read Part 3 of this article:

How to Create an RSS Feed for Your Web Site


Herman Drost is the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW)
owner and author of http://www.iSiteBuild.com .
Affordable Web Site Design and Web Hosting.
Subscribe to his “Marketing Tips” newsletter for more original in-depth articles at: http://www.isitebuild.com/articles


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