RSS, aka RDF Site Summary (0.9, 1.0, 1.1); Rich Site Summary (0.91); Really Simple Syndication (0.92, 0.94, 2.0 by Userland --> now by Harvard); Atom (comparable to RSS 2.0). RSS is an XML document which packages a basic content for syndication consumption. For blogs, a RSS is simply a list of weblog posts of a particular blog or portion of a blog. Most applications that consume RSS can input all the different variations. There is no standard file extension for RSS but .xml, .rss, and .rdf are commonly used.

EG: Here is a Userland RSS 2.0 feed.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<rss version="2.0"><!-- Root element is required -->
<channel><!-- Only 1 channel per rss -->
 <!-- TITLE, LINK, and DESCRIPTION are required for the CHANNEL -->
<title>Fake News</title>
<link>http://www.fake.com/</link>
<description>Fake news for a real world.</description>
 <!-- These elements are optional for the CHANNEL -->
<language>en-us</language>
<copyright>Copyright 2005 Fake News, Inc.</copyright>
<managingEditor>ManagingEditor@fake.com</managingEditor>
<webMaster>WebMaster@fake.com</webMaster>
<pubDate>10 June 2005 00:00:01 GMT</pubDate><!-- Usually daily or weekly. Must be in RFC 822 format -->
<lastBuildDate>10 June 2005 16:40:04 GMT</lastBuildDate><!-- Must be in RFC 822 format -->
<category>Newspaper</category><!-- a channel may have multiple categories/tags --> <generator>Fancy Content Management Software v3.4</generator>
<docs>http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss</docs><!-- Where the RSS schema is defined. -->
<!-- Formerly http://backend.userland.com/rss -->
<cloud></cloud>
<ttl>60</ttl><!-- Time To Live (refresh) in minutes -->
<image><!-- A JPG, GIF, or PNG for the channel. TITLE, LINK, and URL are required -->
  <title>Fake News</title>
  <link>http://www.fake.com/</link>
  <url>http://www.fake.com/images/fakeLogo.gif</url>
  <width>34</width><!-- Max is 144. Default is 88. -->
  <height>60</height><!-- Max is 400. Default is 31. -->
</image>
<rating></rating>
<textInput></textInput>
<skipHours></skipHours>
<skipDays></skipDays>

<!-- A channel has 0+ items, each of which is a post: either a full post or a summary post. -->
<!-- An item has 10 possible elements. At least 1 TITLE or DESCRIPTION is required. -->
<item><!-- Here is an example summary post. -->
  <title>George is Good</title>
  <link>http://www.fake.com/2003/06/09/175301c123.html</link> <!-- LINK is used in summary posts to point to the full article. May be same as GUID. -->
  <description>George wins prize for being a very good boy.</description>
  <author>PulitzerPaulina@cmm.com (Paulina Pulitzer)</author>
  <category domain="http://www.fake.com/RSSCats/">Good</category> <!-- An item may have multiple categories. The optional attribute DOMAIN has categorization taxonomy. -->
  <bg-infos>http://www.fake.com/bg-infos.asp?post=20030610t164003a</bg-infos>
  <enclosure url="http://www.cmm.com/2003/06/06/mp3/dude.mp3" length="1069871" type="audio/mpeg" />
    <!-- All 3 attributes required. LENGTH is size in bytes. TYPE is MIME type-->
  <guid isPermaLink="true">http://www.fake.com/news.html?post=20030610t164003a</guid>
 <!-- PERMALINK is an optional attribute that defaults to TRUE -->
  <pubDate>09 Jun 2005 16:01:12 GMT</pubDate><!-- must be in RFC 822 format -->
  <source url="http://www.cmm.com/main.rss">CMM News</source><!-- The RSS channel that the link came came from. -->
</item>
<item><!-- Here is an example full post. -->
  <title>Zion Under Attack</title>
  <description><![CDATA[
  <p><a href="http://matrix.net/zion">Zion</a> is under attack by swarms of
  <a href="http://matrix.net/sentinels">sentinels</a>!</p>
  ]]></description>
  <author>Neo@fake.com (Neo)</author>
  <category domain="http://www.fake.com/RSSCats/">Bad</category>
  <comments>http://www.fake.com/comments.asp?post=20030610t164117b</comments>
  <enclosure url="http://morpheus.com/mp3/oww.mp3" length="1069871" type="audio/mpeg" />
  <enclosure url="http://trinity.com/img/hey.jpg" length="1271" type="image/jpeg" />
  <guid isPermaLink="true">http://www.fake.com/news/2005/0610.html?p=20030610t164117b</guid>
  <pubDate>09 Jun 2005 17:23:12 GMT</pubDate><!-- Must be in RFC 822 format -->
</item>
</channel>
</rss>

A blog makes an RSS feed (aka RSS channel) of its content or some of its content available for syndication, i.e. so that the content can be consumed by applications such as news sites, search engines, RSS aggregators, RSS viewers, RSS readers.

  • If a Web site does not provide an RSS feed, than you have a few options.
    • Make an RSS feed by "scraping" the content of the site.
    • Just point to the dang site.
    • Ask the site to make an RSS feed.
  • If a Web site does provide an RSS feed, then an RSS consuming app might find the RSS feed by simply knowing the site's URL. Otherwise there are many ways to obtain the RSS feed.

Most people who read news on the web already unknowingly take advantage of RSS. There are topic specific sites that are aggregate RSS feeds specific to their topic. A person who likes to check many blogs, may want to consider using an RSS aggregator as a one-stop place to consume RSS feeds from multiple sites on multiple topics in a condensed format.

Some RSS aggregators are online. Some are standalone. Some apps incorporate RSS aggregation capabilities. EGs: MS Outlook or the Mozilla browser.



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