Will Tang

Playing the Blues

16 August 2017

What is RSS?

Since its creation, the internet has expanded at an alarming rate, providing masses of information on any subject imaginable. There is now so much information available that it is difficult to manage everything that you would like to. This is where a new internet technology, RSS or Really Simple Syndication, has evolved to make this process a little more manageable.

You probably have a collection of favourite websites that you frequently like to visit, keeping up to date with the latest news. RSS can automate this for you, by constantly monitoring your favourite websites and notifying you whenever a new article is available. You will get your latest news, direct to your desktop, as soon as it's available, instead of having to continuously trawl through a list of websites. RSS is a bit like an electronic paperboy, automatically delivering news to your computer.

RSS Websites offering this service are becoming increasingly popular, with one excellent example being the BBC news website. A website offering this service is said to offer an RSS feed or news feed. News feeds on such web pages are usually denoted by a small orange button as above, sometimes with RSS in white writing, although just to confuse things, the button may sometimes say XML instead, and be blue.

To make use of RSS you will need to install special newsreader software on your computer. This software may run as a stand alone program, or may integrate with your current web browser or e-mail program. The side panel provides links to a few popular newsreaders.

If you try viewing a RSS news feed in a standard web browser, you may get unexpected results often resembling computer code as these links are designed to be used with special news reader applications as described above and not with web browsers.

Once you have installed a newsreader, you need to choose news feeds that you wish to subscribe to. This may vary depending on which newsreader you choose, but generally requires visiting your favourite website and clicking on the orange news feed button on the web page. Your newsreader software should then register this as one of your favourite news feeds and begin monitoring the feed for you.


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