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RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Its intent is to provide a format for data that can be used by a program to retrieve data from a file somewhere else on the Internet, such as a daily blog, that has been modified. It is a specific implementation of an XML format. Programs that can read this data can use it to:

  • check the file and report if the data in the file has been change.
  • retrieve only the data that is new since the last time the data was obtained.
  • retrieve and display all of the data on the site.
  • retrieve a link to more complete data on the subject.
  • in some readers the data can be filtered using an assigned category.

The purpose is for individuals and companies to post information on their web sites and allow the user to just retrieve changed data just when they need to. This differs from just sending the new data out via email in that it is less intrusive being totally under control of the receiver of the data. The data is often a blog or news items that the user is interested in. The user subscribes or sets up their reader to obtain information on the site on a periodic basis.

An RSS page is usually used in conjunction with an html page. The RSS file points to the html page that matches the data on the site so that the user can click on the data and go directly to the site. Data in a RSS feed is generally divided into 3 types.

  • Data on the RSS site is a subset of the data on the web site. It is often an introduction designed to let the user know about a article. If they are interested they can tap the link and read the full article.
  • Data in the RSS file is identical to the data on the web site. The user need not click on the site reference since they have all of the information but they may still use the link to display the full file if they wish. In many cases the data in the RSS file is limited to a few months or even less in which case the site may have older data on it.
  • The link to the site may be a dummy with no real information. This is uncommon but indicates that the feed is the way the data is to be read.

[edit] Sample File

Here is an example of file that is in RSS format. The file has dummy data that is intended to explain, by example, the contents that is required. This can be copied and used to build a working RSS feed side. The file name can be any name and the extension is usually xml or rss.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<rss version="2.0"> 

<title>Title for the site.</title>
<description>Description of the site contents.</description>
<copyright>Copyright ©2007 All rights reserved.</copyright>
Tue, 26 Jun 2007 13:09:09 PST
Tue, 26 Jun 2007 13:09:09 PST
<category>Category of this tip</category>
<generator>Person or company that generated the tip</generator>
<title>Title for the image</title>
This is the title of the entry for this particular entry
Here is where the text goes. The data between the two item tags can
be repeated indefinitely in the file to have multiple entries. When
a new entry is made the date at the up of the file (pub date and build
date should be updated to match the date of the entry) Note that the
cdata tag allows html constructions to be part of this description.  
This is the category to allow filtering (should be short)
</category><guid isPermaLink="true">
Mon, 5 Feb 2007 12:09:09 PST


There is some redundancy in the file as different readers may key off of different fields. Be sure the dates are consistent. They must be specified using RFC 822 formatted timestamps.

[edit] Tips

  • While it is tempting to use RSS feeds to provide news data for reading on a eBook reader and translation programs exist to get RSS data and convert it, there are some limitations. Generally RSS feeds are abbreviated feeds of the data on the web site and many expect you will be able to access the file article so the abbreviated version may be frustrating if that is all you have. Other tools may be better suited that go directly to the web sites.
  • RSS feeds are perfect for readers that are online and can help filter the data to keep you from wasting time.
  • The format is simple enough you can create your own RSS feed using a simple text editor. Just copy the data in the example and modify as needed.
XML Icon
  • You should advertise the link using a graphic similar to the one shown on the right. It should either say XML or RSS. When this is tapped it should provide a direct URL to the RSS file. When the user taps this link they won't usually see a display of the page unless their browser suppports RSS feeds directly. But that's OK-- the URL for the feed is what they need to use with an RSS reader.
  • In this wiki there are some pages that can be sent to an RSS reader. If you see the word RSS in the toolbox then you are viewing one of those pages. The data will be treated exactly like any other RSS feed so the pages are usually ones showing new pages or changed pages. The data will be wiki source files so it may not be displayed properly in your RSS reader. Usually you can tap the link in the RSS reader to display the data in a browser.

[edit] For more information

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