RSS Newsfeeds for Dummies

To start with this RSS has got nothing to do with that RSS :). This RSS is called the Rich Site Summary or the Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary and the latest version is RSS 2.0.

RSS is primarily useful to collect one’s favourite newsfeeds from different websites and present it at one point to the readers on their desktop rather than requiring him or her to log onto every site. So basically it is there to make life easy for everybody.

To access one’s favourite content through the RSS one needs a RSS reader. There are a lot of readers available on the Internet but my own favourite readers are Bloglines and FeedDemon.

Bloglines is a very simple utility. It is netbased and one can access it from any browser. There is no need to download any software. Just sign up for an account and you are on. One can bookmark all their favourite sites under My Feeds which is regularly updated. The corresponding content is displayed on the Right hand side. The user interface is very intuitive and one can learn very quickly without much problem.Plus once someone is logged in even if they close the browser in the middle of the session they are not logged out. This is about the same flexibility that one gets from any dedicated desktop reader software which gives Bloglines some very good brownie points.

The only sore point with Bloglines is the Automatic detection of an RSS feed from any site that one visits. One has to store something called the “Easy Subscribe Bookmarklet” in the favourites folder of their browser and click on it when they want to detect the RSS feed for the site they are viewing. It works at most times but it is quite painful in case of sites like Rediff which have multiple feeds and one has to manually copy and paste the feed address in Add menu under My Feeds. Anything that is non-intuitive to a dummy user is bound to send him off scurrying to the competitor. Hope Bloglines fix this issue as soon as possible.

FeedDemon is another excellent software that is available for free download as a evaluation version. It irritates ppl all the time when one either opens or exits FeedDemon with a Buy prompt screen.

Otherwise it is quite easy to configure and very intuitive to use. It has a channels folder in the Left hand side, A Headlines list of the site in the center window and the article in full on the extreme right hand side. It is able to tag the RSS feeds of sites automatically it visits or you can just click the RSS/XML icons on the sites and it gets tagged easily.

Now what if you have a Blog and you want to include RSS functionality. If your blog is hosted on either Blogger or WordPress or any other such service provider there is a default RSS feed available and you only have to include a RSS icon on your site and some html code with a href so that any visitor can easily tag your site by clicking on the icon.

Alternately one can use Feedburner to generate a feedbunner url. The Feedburner site then gives you a small piece of html code that you have to include at a appropriate place on your site by modifying the template. The icon then appears on your blog along with the hyperlink. The advantage here is any visitor when he clicks on the icon is taken to a page where he can select to tag your site with a host of Readers. Also the Feedburner provides several useful utilities and code to spruce up your blog offering.

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