What the Heck is "RSS"?

If you've been wondering what those little orange "XML/RSS" buttons are that have been popping up on web sites... Well... you're not alone!

Here is what they're all about...

"RSS" has two meanings...

  • "Really Simple Syndication" or "Really Simple Subscription"...

It just depends on if you are the publisher of information or the consumer of information.

"Syndication" in this use means the redistribution of material by a publisher to many outlets.

So for a publisher who is looking at getting his material out by RSS it's... "Really Simple Syndication."

But what RSS means to you... Someone who wants information RSS stands for... "Really Simple Subscribing."

Just like you subscribe to a newspaper and it comes to you  from a paper carrier... you can "subscribe" to a web site's RSS feed... Also called a Web feed... and get the stuff you want delivered to youThe beauty of this is that you can keep up-to-date on web sites that have RSS without having to go to the web site itself and try to figure out if there is new stuff!

So… what exactly is a "Web feed"...??

  • A "web feed" is the format that information from different Web sites comes to you. Think of it as though you are getting "fed" the information that you specifically want from the Web.

Web feeds/RSS feeds are programmed using a computer "language" called "XML" which stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It's similar to a web page, which is programmed using "HTML" - HyperText Markup Language.

When you see this little icon on a web page that means the site offers a web feed.

This icon also  indicates that there is a web feed available for you to subscribe to.

The Benefits of Subscribing to RSS/Web Feeds...

Web feeds have some advantages compared to receiving frequently published content via email:

  • When subscribing to a feed, users do not disclose their email address, so users are not increasing their exposure to threats associated with email: spam, viruses, phishing, and identity theft.
  • If users want to stop receiving news, they do not have to send an "unsubscribe" request; users can simply remove the feed from their feed reader.
  • The feed items are automatically "sorted" in the sense that each feed URL has its own sets of entries (unlike an email box, where all emails are in one big pile and email programs have to resort to complicated rules and pattern matching).

(Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_feed)

Finding An RSS Reader...

Well, first you need a program that can "read" the XML file that contains the feed.

There are two ways you can do this:

  • You can use a free RSS feed reader that you download onto your computer (you install the feed reader software on your computer)... OR
  • You can set up a feed reader that works through your web browser or webmail and subscribe to feeds that way. These types of readers can be set up through Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, AOL, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google etc. As the method for setting these up changes from time to time it's best to look on the web as to how the current set up is achieved. The information is usually easy to find via a search engine.

If you want to download and use your feed reader on your computer (which I prefer), try these free readers (but a course there are a ton more on the web that you can download if you don't like these):

Windows = RssReader:
> www.rssreader.com <

(Opens in a New Window)

Mac = NetNewsWire:
> ranchero.com/netnewswire <

(Opens in a New Window)

Once You've Got RSS Set up... Here's How You Subscribe to a Particular Feed...

Once you've got a reader set up, you can start subscribing to web feeds from sites that offer them. You subscribe by:

  • Right-clicking and hold down (control-click for Mac users) on any orange RSS button on a site, blog or news source that interests you...
  • Then, while holding down the mouse button...
  • Select "Copy Shortcut" from the menu that pops up ("Copy Link to Clipboard" for Mac, "Copy Link Location" for Firefox browsers), and...
  • Paste that URL into your RSS Reader.

And that's it! You're subscribed...!!!

  • Note that each reader will have instructions on how to add a subscription... this method is just the basic way.
  • Some web sites, such as mine... VideoEditingSage.com... offer buttons that allow you to quickly add the feed to whatever RSS reader you have installed. Mine is in the top left-hand corner on the navigation bar.

If you use any of the readers listed above... All you have to do is click on the button for the reader you use and you'll be instantly subscribed to that site's feed!

You now have a cool new time-saving tool...!

Have fun with it...

Video Editing Sage.com

Thanks for coming by...Dan

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