What is RSS?
How much time do we have to spend catching up with our favourite websites full of information and delight? We would spend hours browsing pages whose content changes on an unpredictable schedule. Repeatedly checking each website to see if there is any new content can be very tedious and more of a chore than a pleasure.
Wouldn’t it be nicer to have the latest news delivered directly to your computer? Do you believe this can be very easy?
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an exciting new technology which lets you collate and access a constantly updating stream of material in a simple and ingenious way. It’s a small program which collects the headlines of multiple websites easily and downloads them to your computer well organized and distinct from email. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. Furthermore, you ensure your privacy by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter. Every time a new story is posted on the site, its headline appears in your RSS reader and you can then decide whether you want to click on the headline and read the whole story or skim to the next piece of news.
How do I start using RSS?
We have built the RSS feed to get our latest jobs in the public sector across the UK delivered to you - jobs in Arts, Culture & Leisure, Central Government, Charities & Not-for-Profit, Clerical & Administration, Corporate & Finance, Defence, Education, Environmental Health, Health Care, Housing & Regeneration, HR, Immigration, IT, Law Enforcement, Legal, Marketing & Communications, Planning, Policy & Regulation, Procurement, Revenues & Benefits, Social Care and Technical Services. All you need to do is click on the red button and you can subscribe to the feed.
How does RSS work?
To use RSS you will need to download and install an RSS reader program or sign up to an online service. Different news readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work for your computer. There are many types available online and most of them are free of charge. Each list of headlines is called a feed, and you can sign up to many different feeds and keep them all stored in a single place for instant access. Being able to skim-read a large number of website headlines like this can cut down the time it takes to access your favourite sites considerably.
People who are interested in finding out the latest headlines or changes can check this list. Special computer programs called "RSS aggregators" have been developed that automatically access the RSS feeds of websites you care about on your behalf and organize the results for you. Some popular feed readers include Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows - integrates with Outlook).
What information does RSS provide?
RSS provides very basic information to do its notification. It is made up of a list of items presented in order from newest to oldest. Each item usually consists of a simple title describing the item along with a more complete description and a link to a web page with the actual information being described. Sometimes this description is the full information you want to read (such as the content of a web log post) and sometimes it is just a summary.
The RSS information is placed into a single file on a website in a manner similar to normal web pages. However, the information is coded in the XML computer language for use by a program (the RSS aggregator) and not by a person like a normal web page.
RSS aggregator programs
Think of an RSS aggregator as just a web browser for RSS content. RSS aggregators automatically check a series of RSS feeds for new items on an ongoing basis, making it possible to keep track of changes to multiple websites without needing to tediously read and re-read each of the websites yourself. They detect the additions and present them all together to you in a compact and useful manner. If the title and description of an item are of interest, the link can be used to quickly bring the related web page up for reading.
How do I find out if a website has an RSS feed?
It is getting more and more common for websites to have RSS feeds. They usually indicate the existence of the feed on the home page or main news page with a link to "RSS", or sometimes by displaying an orange button with the letters "XML" or "RSS". RSS feeds are also often found via a "Syndicate This" link. Text "RSS" links sometimes (there are lots of variations) point to a web page explaining the nature of the RSS feeds provided and how to find them. The buttons are often linked directly to the RSS feed file itself.
In addition to notifying you about news headlines and changes to websites, RSS can be used for many other purposes. There does not even have to be a web page associated with the items listed - sometimes all the information you need may be in the titles and descriptions themselves.
Some common uses of RSS feeds are:
> Notification of the arrival of new products in a store
> Listing and notifying you of newsletter issues, including email newsletters
> Weather and other alerts of changing conditions
> Notification of additions of new items to a database, or new members to a group
One RSS aggregator is all you need to read all of the RSS feeds, be they headlines, alerts, changes, or other notifications. RSS is shaping up to be a very popular and useful means for communicating over the Internet.