What is RSS and why should I use it?

March 19th, 2007 by

First of I’d like to introduce myself as this is my first blog post here on The Blob.

My name is Esben Kvorning and I’ve been working as a Graphic Designer for UK2 since December 2006. I’ve dealt mostly with the graphic elements and client side XHTML, CSS and Javascript on the site, so if you have any recommendations or anything else you’re more than welcome to comment!

But lets leave this for now and get on with the RSS thing…!

Although it has been around for quite a while now, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is still unknown to a lot of people but hopefully I will be able to shed some light on it with this brief blog post.

In broad terms RSS is the lazy mans way of browsing the web. Why go to the kiosk to buy a newspaper when you can have it delivered directly to your door? – This is exactly what RSS does.

You might have noticed a little orange icon like this RSS Feed icon in your browsers address bar or on some of the sites you visit regularly, this icon tells you that there’s a RSS feed to subscribe to.

Say that you wanted to stay updated on what’s going on in the UK2 blog “The Blob” but don’t want to visit it every day- RSS helps you with this by serving the information directly to your computer. This is of course not limited to just our blog, try visiting sites like bbc.co.uk and many others and look for the orange icon.

So how do I do this?” I hear a lot of you asking – well, it’s actually quite simple, especially if you are using a newer browser like Firefox or Internet Explorer 7 since have built in RSS support. Just click the orange icon in the address bar and subscribe to the feed – simple as that.

The major problem with the built in RSS support in Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 is that it is very basic. What I would personally recommend is downloading a stand-alone program called a “feed reader”. There’s quite a few alternatives out there both freeware and payware so I’m only going to list a few of them here:

Windows:

  • Sharpreader (freeware) – very basic feed reader, but it’s lightweight and most of all FREE ๐Ÿ™‚
  • FeedReader (freeware) -nice looking and lightweight feed reader.
  • FeedDemon ($29) – lots of configuration options. Does cost $29 but it’s possible to download a trial.

Mac:

As I’m not a Mac-man I can’t really help on this one, but I guess a quick stop by Google can help you out ๐Ÿ™‚

A last thing to note for all you Firefox users out there: There’s a nice feed reader add-on called Sage that I recommend you take a look at if you prefer to have as few applications open as possible.

Alright I think that more or less sums it up for now but just to let you know, there’s a lot more to RSS than what I have described here, so if you feel like it stop by Wikipedia and read what they have to say about it.

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6 Comments

Ditlev
# 19th March, 2007

Nice post Esben ๐Ÿ™‚
I am on MAC, and I really like http://www.newsfirerss.com/ – its easy to use and has this nice “mac” feeling!

๐Ÿ™‚
Ditlev

Dave
# 19th March, 2007

I’d heartily recommend Google Reader (http://www.google.com/reader/) – it’s fully web-based, so you can read your newsfeeds from wherever you are, and of course it doesn’t matter which operating system you are using either ๐Ÿ™‚

The interface is fairly similar to Gmail in a lot of ways.

Matthew Lanham
# 19th March, 2007

Remember also, that RSS is a useful way of sharing information across multiple related websites in the hope to attract new visitors….So that you can visit one website and see everything related to that subject, Google News is driven by RSS feeds from other news websites.

Sam
# 19th March, 2007

I’ve been using NetNewsWire for years on the Mac, and I’d thoroughly recommend it :-).

The Blob » Blog Archive » Full RSS Feed
# 30th March, 2007

[…] Esben explained in his post “What is RSS and why should I use it?“, RSS is a way to keep track of new content from your favourite websites and blogs, having […]

Andrew
# 22nd May, 2007

Hey Esben,

That was a useful blog you posted and i found it very easy to use the RSS feeds upon reading your blog. If anybody has any good websites they know that use RSS feeds in there site it would be appreciated i found that http://www.gumtree.com use the feeds. Many thanks in advance Andrew

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