So you are a regular internet user who has a long series of frequently updated websites or blogs that you visit everyday. But you are a busy person also, and one of the biggest chagrins in your life is opening a website or blog only to discover it hasn’t been updated. Well then congratulations! RSS is the perfect solution for you. But what is RSS exactly, and what does it do? Read on to find out!
What is RSS
RSS is an acronym for either “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary”. It is a really easy and efficient method to publish and distribute regularly updated content such as news, blog posts, update notices, headlines, and web content to people in a standardized format normally called a “feed”.
History of RSS
Developed in the late 1900s by Netscape, RSS is an XML format that can quickly and easily distribute information and updates to a large audience. The initial version of RSS was called “RDF Site Summary”, and was based on a similar format created by UserLand Software sometime earlier. Several versions came out before Netscape decided to transfer the rights of RSS back to its original developer, UserLand, who continued to expand it. Meanwhile, another software group came up with a new version based on the original principles of RSS, but UserLand was not very happy with it and in 2002 introduced RSS 2.0, that quickly became popular. Now, RSS is widely used by people all over the world.
How it Works
RSS creates a list of notifications referred to as the “RSS Feed” of a website or a blog. This feed is actually a small and light weight XML file that resides on the web server. Subscribing to this feed will keep you updated with the latest headlines and updates of that particular website or blog. There are special programs called “RSS aggregators” or “RSS Feed Readers” that are designed to automatically access the websites and blogs regularly for the latest feeds and provide you the results in an organized, readable manner.
Why use RSS
RSS helps you to stay up to date and informed all the time by bringing you the latest highlights and updates from your favorite websites and blogs. It also saves a lot of your time as you don’t have to visit each website and blog individually to check for updates. It also provides you the facility to control the quantity and quality of the information you receive from the feeds.
How to Subscribe to a Feed
There are two ways you can subscribe to a feed of your interest:
- Enter the feed’s URL into your RSS feed reader
- Click on the orange feed icon on the desired website/blog to initiate the subscription process.
How to Generate RSS Feed for your own Website or Blog
Again, there are two ways of doing this:
- Use free specialized tools called Feed Generators to extract data from your web page or blog
- Use the RSS library of PHP. A PHP script will build an XML file by using the titles and the descriptions of pages and blog posts from the content of your website or blog.