Many websites have links labeled “RSS” (short for Really Simple Syndication) or “XML” or “Atom” or “Feed” or sometimes just this icon: . These are ways of saying that you can find out about updates to that site without having to visit the site using your browser. This might sound a bit odd at first, but, it is actually a very useful way to keep up with changes to many web sites without having to browse to each one every time you want to see if there is something new.
When you visit a website that has a button or a link that says RSS, XML, ATOM, or FEED it means the site makes its content available as a syndicated feed.
Our School Website provides such a feed, and it contains links to all the latest news – see here:
You can start using feeds very easily, and for free.
Once you get started, you will be amazed at how many sites offer them. It began with Blogs, but now many sites, including almost all major news sites offer feeds.
To get started, you need a “feed reader”. This is a piece of software that allows you to subscribe to feeds, and read them. The good news is that most of the popular feed readers are free, or they are part of software you already use.
A feed reader enables you to subscribe to the feeds you are interested in and it automatically checks to see when they’re updated, displaying the updates for you as they arrive.
Typically, feed readers run on your computer but there are some you can sign up to use that run on the web. If you use one of the web-based readers, you can access your feeds from anywhere you go, just by signing into the website that manages your feeds. If you use a feed reading program that installs on your computer, your feeds can be stored for you even if you’re not connected to the Internet.
What Feed Readers are out there?
On the web you can use “My Yahoo”, “Googles Personalized Homepage”, “My MSN” or “My AOL” all of which are free. You can probably also find others.
If you use Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer 7 or Apple’s Safari, these browsers have support for feeds built in.
You may wish to use a dedicated feed reader program, and there are a number of good ones available – NetNewsWire and Shrook (for Macintosh) are just two.
Many of the programs listed above will suggest feeds worth subscribing to, but it’s really as easy as keeping an eye open for the little orange symbol , or the words: RSS, or FEED, and copying the URL (web address) that the symbol links to.