ABC's of RSS Feeds
Implementing RSS (Really Simple
Syndication) can be aided by an understanding
of the terms relating to RSS. Learn the ABCs of
A - AutoDiscovery
Auto Discovery is code that is inserted
into the header of an HTML web page, which then
indicates to readers that an RSS feed is available
for the content.
B - Blogs
Blogs are web logs that are updated
regularly, usually on a daily basis. Blogs generally
contain information related to a specific topic.
In some cases, blogs are used as daily diaries
about people's personal lives, political views,
or even as social commentaries. The truth of the
matter is that blogs can be shaped into whatever
the author wants them to be. While initially thought
of as diaries or online journals, blogs have evolved
into the latest fresh web content.
C - Cache
Cache is a temporary storage area
for frequently-accessed or recently-accessed data.
Having certain data stored in a cache area speeds
up the operation of the computer. Using a cache
with RSS feeds will help minimize bandwidth and
display an RSS feed's content quicker.
D - Display
RSS Many webmasters post the content
of an RSS feed on their website. They use either
done properly, the feed's content will dynamically
update as the content of the feed changes.
E - Elements
Within an RSS feed, there are various
feed elements. The elements of an RSS feed are
defined by tags.
F - Filter
Many RSS feeds contain duplicate
or similar content. Publishers can filter RSS
feeds so that they only see content that they
wish to see, by filtering out duplicate postings.
G - GUID
GUID stands for Globally Unique
IDentifier. The RSS specification strongly suggests
that each RSS feed item have a unique GUID. If
you are creating feeds, a GUID is important because
GUIDs are often used by feed readers and aggregators
to determine if a feed item is new or simply an
existing item that has been updated. Each item
in the RSS feed should have a unique GUID.
H - HTML
HTML, which is the acronym for HyperText
Markup Language, is frequently used to design
I - iTunes Namespace
The iTunes Namespace allows the
user to add the information necessary to have
a podcast listed on the Apple iTunes Music Store
to display the content of an RSS feed.
K - Keywords
Keywords should be integrated into
the RSS feed to help search engines determine
what the RSS feed is about.
L - Links
Links are used to direct RSS readers
to the original webpage containing information
that directly relates to the feed.
M - Mashup
A mashup is a combination of multiple
RSS feeds that have been merged together to create
a new, single feed.
N - Namespace Extensions
The RSS specification allows you
to create and use your own custom elements (tags)
in any RSS feed by declaring your own namespace.
Doing this is 100% in line with the RSS specification
and the feed will validate. However, you should
have a specific and well-planned reason to do
so. No RSS readers, or other RSS processing applications,
will be able to use your custom info for any purpose.
Adding elements (tags) would typically be used
only in an in-house situation where both the writing
application and the reading application have prior
knowledge of the new tags.
O - OPML
OPML, or Outline Processor Markup
Language, is a file format standard that can be
used to exchange subscription lists between programs.
OPML is used as a standard to import or export
groups of RSS feed subscriptions. OPML was initially
designed by Radio UserLand as a file format for
outlines. The purpose of this format is to provide
a way to exchange information between outliners
and Internet services. OPML has since been adopted
for other uses, the most common being to exchange
lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators. OPML
is an open format, allowing other services to
extend the format. While OPML was not initially
designed as a vehicle to share RSS feeds, it has
become the de facto standard. OPML, like RSS,
is based on RSS, and because of the similarities,
those familiar with RSS have embraced OPML as
a way to share RSS feed collections
P - Podcasting
Podcasting is online audio content
that is delivered via an RSS feed. Many people
equate podcasting to "radio on demand". However,
in reality, podcasting gives the listener far
more options than radio does, in terms of content
and programming. In addition, podcast listeners
can determine their own time and the place for
listening, meaning they decide what programming
they want to receive, and when they want to listen
to it. Listeners can retain audio archives to
listen to later, at their leisure. While blogs
have turned many bloggers into journalists, podcasting
has the potential to turn podcasters into radio
Q - Query
Webmasters can create RSS feeds
based on search queries for their websites.
R - RSS
RSS is a standard format for syndicating
content on the Internet. The content can be anything!
Information contained in an RSS feed is often
syndicated on other sites, which expands its reach.
Website visitors love RSS because they choose
which feeds they wish to subscribe to. If at any
point they are unhappy with the content contained
in the RSS feed, they simply unsubscribe and no
longer receive notification of feed updates. RSS
is really a win-win for both subscribers and publishers.
In order to get a better understanding of how
RSS works, download an RSS reader or use a web
aggregator and subscribe to an RSS feed (they
are usually indicated by a small orange icon).
S - Syndication
Syndication is the supply of material
for reuse and integration with other material.
T - Template
Many webmasters use templates to
layout the contents of their RSS feed and make
it match there website.
U - URL
URLs can be embedded into the description
of the RSS feed items, so that when the feed is
syndicated, the content originator gains backlinks.
Feed validation is important. If
a feed is not properly formed, it will not always
be valid for reading.
W - Website
Updates RSS feeds can be set up
to notify visitors when a website changes.
X - XML
RSS is a subset of XML, or eXtensible
Y - Yahoo Answers
Yahoo's interactive system of questions
and answers can be tracked using RSS feeds. You
can create keyword or category feeds for anything
in Yahoo Answers.
Z - Zero Feeds
Not having RSS feeds for your website
puts you at a competitive disadvantage. RSS feeds
bring traffic and help the stickiness of your
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS
feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages
marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com
audio recording and editing software.