What is RSS?
- What is RSS.
- What is RSS feed.
- What content is shared via RSS feeds.
- RSS feed structure and main elements.
What is RSS.
RSS is a technology to easily deliver content from a content provider to a content user. The process of delivering content is also called 'syndication' and RSS can stand for 'real simple syndication'.
Sometimes RSS is interpreted as 'rich site summary' which is also true. RSS is used by website owners, bloggers, online merchants to provide visitors with a list of latest news, updates, product offers and so on.
Both content providers and content suppliers can benefit from using RSS technology. Content providers reach a wider audience and content suppliers receive fresh and targeted content with no efforts.
The main beauty of RSS - is how easily content comes from providers to end users. As soon as any update is made by a content provider it is instantly delivered via RSS to end user. No need to go to content provider's website, search for needed content, as it is already here.
What is RSS feed.
RSS is a technology and its objectification is RSS feed. And if not to go deep we can imagine RSS feed as a conveniently structured self-updating file with fresh targeted information from a particular content provider. You can find RSS feeds by searching for a ".rss" extension in page's source code. Or, by looking for an RSS icon on a page that looks like these:
How can you view or read content delivered via RSS feeds? You can open RSS feed in your browser. And if your browser doesn't display RSS feeds you can use special RSS readers or aggregators that can read RSS feeds. Sometimes you can hear a phrase "subscribe to RSS feed". That means that you take RSS feed link and add it to your RSS reader or news aggregator. For example RSS Ground has its own decent RSS Feeds Reader:
What content is shared via RSS feeds.
Most popular news agencies provide their news and stories via RSS feeds.Usually they have not only one RSS feed but a whole collection of RSS feeds by topics or categories.
Almost each blog has its own RSS feed. RSS feed option is a built-in feature in most blogging platforms. Practically all bloggers willingly share their latest posts via RSS feed.
Online merchants and online marketplaces sometimes provide RSS feeds with latest listings and affiliate products. But don't confuse RSS feeds with datafeeds.
Datafeed is another popular way to share information. But datafeeds are in different format and are designed for a machine interpretation only. They can't be read by RSS Readers and aggregators. However there are tools which can convert datafeeds to RSS feeds and make it possible to preview them in any RSS Reader. See Datafeed tool from RSS Ground as an example.
One more example of sharing content via RSS feeds is different media sharing services. This can be article directories, image stocks, video sharing services like YouTube and others. Even some social networks like Facebook have RSS feed option for its fan pages.
Actually you can always find RSS feeds where gradual news or updates publishing takes place.
RSS feed structure and main elements.
RSS feed is a stream of latest updates from a content provider. Every RSS feed has its structure which consists of RSS channel and RSS items.
RSS Channel is an integral part of each RSS feed. From 'Channel title' we learn who the content provider is and from 'Channel description' we learn about the main topic of the feed.
Another element of any RSS feed is 'RSS item'. Well, this is how it is called officially. But actually it is a piece of information shared by the content provider. This can be: news, article, product offer, podcast, video, image or anything else.
Each RSS item also has several standard elements: Title, Description, Date and Link.
Title and description will tell us what the story is about. Date will tell us when the story was published. And link will lead us to the webpage with the original content.
Depending on how content provider prefers to deliver information in his RSS feed these elements may have a different order or even not be used at all.
Usually all updates listed in RSS feed are sorted chronologically, with the latest updates on the top. RSS item date will give you an idea of the latest update added to RSS feed. If RSS feed doesn't provide a timestamp then you can assume that recent updates are on the top of the list. And remember, RSS feeds are self-updating. As soon as content provider adds an update to his website RSS feed will show it right away.
A very important question is ' how much content' or 'how many items' are there in each RSS feed. It all depends on a content provider and how many latest updates it wants to show. It can be 10, 20, 50, 100 or just few RSS items. It can be any finite number when new items replace old ones showing you a certain number of latest updates.
It is a common mistake to assume that you can view all news and updates ever published by a content provider. No, only a given number of latest news are available via RSS feeds.