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RSS: A brief introduction to Really Simple Syndication

Written by Kelsey Sigurdur Friday, 07 April 2006

Really Simple Syndication, or RSS for short, can be best described as a lightweight and efficient means to distribute information.

At its core, RSS is a tiny set of rules that content providers adhere to when structuring and labeling information for fast and frequent distribution on the web. Information structured according to these rules is commonly referred to as a RSS Feed.

End-users can choose from a number of software applications to subscribe to, manage, and view RSS Feeds. These software applications are commonly called RSS Readers and sometimes referred to as RSS Aggregators.

RSS Readers can be configured to automatically check RSS Feeds for updates. This allows RSS Reader users to receive up-to-the-minute updates and information from all of their favorite web sites without ever having to open their web browser.

Recommended RSS Readers

RSS Example

A simple RSS document looks something like this:


<rss version="2.0">
<channel>
   <title>Sam's Hot Car Lot</title>
   <link>http://www.samshotcars.ca/</link>
   <description>Hot cars, cool prices.</description>
   <item>
      <title>2000 Honda Civic SiR</title>
      <link>http://www.samshotcarlot.ca/cars/2000-civic-sir.html</link>
      <description>Powerful 160 horsepower 1.6 litre twin cam four cylinder engine.</description>
   </item>
   <item>
      <title>1996 GMC Blazer</title>
      <link>http://www.samshotcarlot.ca/trucks/1996-gmc-blazer.html</link>
      <description>Vortec 4300 V6 engine delivers 190 horsepower at 4400 rpm.</description>
   </item>
</channel>
</rss>

When rendered by your favorite RSS Reader, the same RSS Feed may appear something like this:

RSS feed as rendered by the Sage RSS Reader
The same RSS feed as rendered by the Sage RSS Reader for Firefox

More Information about RSS

For Content Providers & Web Site Operators
For End-Users
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