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Monday, June 6, 2011

What is RSS? Let me attempt to explain...

RSS - What on earth is it?

Do you want to keep up to date on all of the latest posts on my blog? There are many different ways to do this but by far the most popular and useful way is via my RSS feed. Still, the question remains - what is RSS?

What is RSS?

RSS is an amazing technology being used by millions on the web as a way to track and follow their favorite websites. Before RSS keeping track of website was hard. "Bookmarks" were the only way to keep track of a list of favorite sites. There are some big problems with following website via bookmarks.
  • You as the one browsing the web had to do all the work
  • You may very well end up missing important information by forgetting to check on one of your bookmarks
  • It's complicated to manually keep track of multiple websites
  • You'll end up seeing the same old information over and over again on sites that don't update often

So how does RSS help me?

Imagine being able to have a website manage your favorite websites letting you know every time they update and change. Essentially this is what RSS does.

RSS changes the old way of bookmarks and provides you with a new method of getting up to date and relevant information delivered right to you in an easy to read format. It saves vast amounts of time by getting the new information you want as soon as it's published.

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". In essence it's a "news feed" that is personally catered to you. Subscribing to an RSS feed is much like subscribing to a magazine that is distributed periodically except that RSS takes place on the computer instead of you mailbox. RSS delivers your subscription every time your favorite website is updated.

How RSS works "behind-the-scenes" is out of my scope of knowledge. However, luckily for us RSS has been made extremely easy to use with simple and intuitive user-interfaces such as feedburner and other such sites.

Wow! Sounds great! So how do I get RSS?

The first thing you'll need is an RSS Feed Reader. An RSS Feed Reader is a tool that allows you to customize, control, and choose how you want to manage your subscriptions. It's basically a website that has the content of all your favorite websites on it. It compiles all the new information you want and puts it into one place for easy reading. There are many free readers out there but I personally prefer Google Reader. It's very simple, easy to use, and fun!

RSS Feed Readers work like email. As you subscribe to new sites and their feeds you'll see all of the unread entries from those sites marked in bold. This makes it really easy to see what's new and what's old. As you click on them you'll see the latest update from that site and you can read it right there in your feeder. Then you've got the option to either click and go to the site or move on to the next unread item marking the 

previous entry as "read".

The best way to learn to use Google Reader is simply subscribe to some feeds and start using it. Google has an extensive help section in case you get stuck. For starts you can subscribe to 777 Pen Repair to receive all of the latest news from my blog. Just sign up for Google Reader, visit the above link and click the Google button in the subscription box.

Below is shown a screen-shot of my FeedBurner Feed. This is where you'll click on the link to subscribe via Google Reader. Then, when you go to Google Reader my blog will appear in you subscription list!

I hope this has all made sense to you. By now you should understand the great advantages to RSS. I love using it to keep up with my favorite blogs and I trust you'll find it useful for the same. So what are you waiting for? Go and subscribe to my blog!

777 - Tyler Dahl


  1. Catch up Tyler :-)
     Atom overtook RSS some time back?


  2. I'm not exactly sure of the status of "atom". I believe it works with RSS actually. Regardless, still every single website and blog I visit has RSS feeds displayed proudly on it. I'm guessing that alone makes RSS still up to date.

    That's my thoughts anyhow... :)Regards,777 - Tyler Dahl

  3. Atom is a newer (and well supported) alternative to RSS.
    As you say, most readers will display RSS or ATOM.


  4. Okay, well that makes sense! I'll see about looking into ATOM for my blog.

    Thanks Dave!

    777 - Tyler Dahl

  5. Google Reader is awesome. I couldn't go back to the days before I discovered it. Back then I relied on Firefox's live bookmarks but Reader changed everything. Now I can subscribe to a massive number of sites and feeds and read everything that's relevant in a much shorter time.

  6. Yea, Google Reader is awesome. I'm not subscribed to a massive number of blogs but even the ones I am subscribed to it helps greatly to keep up with them.

    777 - Tyler Dahl