Saturday, February 18, 2006

RSS: Web Syndication Part 2

You may want to read Part 1 first

What is Atom?
Atom is a format quite similar to RSS. It was created by people who felt that RSS could be improved upon, and some that disagreed with some of the politics regarding RSS. Some people are heavily involved in the (quite unimportant, in my opinion) argument as to which format is better. The Atom format is in development. The basic difference is that while Atom is somewhat more complex, it is also able to carry more complex information, and it is consistent across the syndication, storage, and editing of information. Just about everything on this page which discusses RSS applies equally well to Atom. You can learn more about Atom at the official website,

What is OPML?
OPML is an XML format for outlines. You can read more about it on the OPML website. An OPML file can be made that lists all the RSS feeds you subscribe to, and this can be very useful. Many RSS aggregators can produce (export) OPML files, and many can read (import from) them. This is a very useful feature. Suppose that you are using aggregator ABC to read 50 RSS feeds. Your friend tells you that aggregator XYZ is so much better than ABC, so you want to try it out. Rather than re-subscribing to all 50 feeds from XYZ, you can export an OPML file from ABC, and import that file into XYZ, assuming that both aggregators have these features. Many people put their OPML files online, which would allow you to instantly to subscribe to all the feeds that they read. Share Your OPML is one website that makes use of information from many people’s OPML files.

How do I read RSS Feeds?
If you want to collect and browse feeds you have many choices, but there are two primary categories of feed reading applications:
** Desktop Programs
** Online Services

**There are many desktop applications for Windows and Mac OS system users, but the most popular two are:
-- FeedDemon (Windows)
-- NetNewsWire (Mac OS X)

Both are top for ease of use.
For a reader of your choice; a search for "RSS Reader" at popular search sites will yield many results.

**If you would prefer to use an online service to track your feeds, you have the advantage of being able to access your feed updates anywhere you use a web browser. Also, any upgrades or new features are added automatically.

The trade-off comes in different, fewer features and slightly slower performance versus desktop programs.

There are many web-based feed reading services, but the most popular two are:

-- RSS = Really Simple Syndication = Rich Site Summary = RDF Site Summary = who cares?
-- RSS file = RSS feed = RSS channel = feed = channel
- Atom = a format similar to RSS; like RSS the files may also be called feeds or channels
-- XML = eXtensible Markup Language = the format RSS is written in = important only because RSS may be labeled as XML
-- RDF = Resource Discovery Framework = the format of RSS version 1.0 = important only because RSS may be labeled as RDF
-- OPML = Outline Processor Markup Language = an XML format for outlines, which may be used as a way of listing many RSS feeds
-- My website is syndicated = My website produces an RSS feed
-- Scraping = When Joe makes an RSS feed for Bob’s website without telling Bob; the feed is called a scraped feed
-- blog = weblog = log on the web = a journal-type website, many of which produce RSS feeds
-- RSS reader = news reader = RSS aggregator = a program that can read RSS files


Must read links:
- RSS Tutorials

- OPML Info

- RSS 2.0 founder Dave Winer

- RSS Workshop: Publish and Syndicate Your News to the Web

- RSS 2.0 Specification at Harvard

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