Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quick Introduction to RSS feed/Syndication

We can see an Icon like this in many websites.

This post will be useful for the readers who are not familiar with this icon.

Actually this icon represents the RSS feed of the website.

So, what is RSS feed?

RSS standards for "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary" or "RDF Site Summary".

The RSS feed is much useful for getting latest updates in a website/blog without navigating to that website and without giving our email id to that website. So we can easily get latest contents (e.g news) from websites without losing our privacy while saving our time by not needing to visit each site individually.

Note that we can use RSS feed only when the site provides support for this feed. i-e it should generate/provide the feed in specified format (XML format).

Publishing this XML file as the feed is known as Syndication.

There are many different ways are there to do syndication. In one of our projects we used PHP code for generating the xml file. It can be done very easily by gathering all the required from database, and create string by following standard RSS specifications.

The created string should be written into a file with extension .xml.

In another project
we created Desktop application for creating customized RSS feed as per our clients requirement.

As I mentioned previously, the content of the xml file should follow some standard RSS specifications.

Each RSS file should have some required channel elements such as title, link, description and can have some Optional channel elements such as language, pubDate,lastBuildDate, category, image.

A Channel element can have multiple item elements which will have elements such as title, link, guid and pubDate for the item.

W3C is providing feed validation service for verifying whether our feed file follows the RSS specifications correctly.

Till now we have seen how to generate/publish/syndicate the RSS feed.

So, now the RSS feed will be available once after the syndication. The next question will be how to use this Feed.

There are many readers (desktop- based and web-based) available for displaying this published RSS feed. These readers are called as RSS aggregators.

Now it is clear that RSS is nothing but a way of receiving recently updated contents from many websites to our aggregators( i-e our desktop or our website) simply by subscribing to the RSS feed.

For example, if you want to read latest posts (recently updated post) of our blog even without coming to our blog you can easily do it just by subscribing to the RSS feed of this blog.

For subscribing to the feed, just click the RSS icon located at sidebar under "Subscribe To QualityPoint"
. There you can see a list of aggregators. You can just select any one of them.

Below screenshots will explain about subscribing to a web-based aggregator (Add to Google)

Below screen will appear after clicking "Add to Google" link. We may need to enter username/password for google account it you are not already logged in.
Note that this email/password will not stored in the blog/website. Just you are logging into your google account.

On selecting "Add to Google" will show below screen.

Clicking on "Add to Google Reader" will show below screen. Here you can see the the latest updates from our blog.

Now you can read all our new articles from your Google account itself even without giving your email id to our blog.

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