RSS works by having a website maintain a list of notifications in the standard way on the website. This list of notifications is called the RSS Feed. To keep track of content changes in the website, a user has to check out this list. For more efficiency, special programs called RSS aggregators have been developed that automatically access the RSS feeds of the websites that the person has subscribed for and organize the information collected. The information is in the form of an XML file. These feeds are also known as RSS channels or RSS Readers.
Basically, the RSS aggregator is a web browser for RSS content. The aggregators periodically check the RSS feeds for new items, thereby making it possible to keep track of changes in multiple websites without having to tediously read web pages and innumerable amount of times. The usefulness of RSS feeds is that they present the additions and the changes in a neat and elegant manner. If the userâ€™s curiosity is piqued by the headline and description, then he/she can click on the link to get the full story.
The figure on the next page shows a typical RSS aggregator. The left hand side contains the list of RSS feeds that have to be monitored or are subscribed to. Additional information such as the number of unread items is also indicated next to each item in parenthesis. The right hand side contains the details of the most recent items in the selected RSS feed.
In the modern fast paced lifestyle of people, the faster a person gets the information he or she is after, the more satisfied they become. Style of presentation of the information pales in comparison to the substance and the ready availability of the information a person desires. RSS or the Really Simple Syndication provides a neat and elegant method of disbursing data collected from various sources to the end users. In short, RSS is an easy way to easily distribute a list of headlines, update notices and other contents to various people. It can also be used to organize the content for simplicity of reading
The term RSS and its expansion is a misnomer as in reality, it stands for an umbrella of various formats, most of them structurally similar but used for different purposes. There are seven formats of RSS currently in use of which the prominent ones are the RSS 1.1 and RSS 2.0 formats. It is really a lightweight XML format designed for sharing content in a much simpler manner.
The reason for the widespread popularity of RSS is that many people are interested in websites with frequently changing content but at unpredictable schedules. These websites mainly include news sites, community sites, product information pages and medical websites. RSS feeds are used in order to keep abreast of the changes in the content of such websites. This saves a lot of time and removes the tediousness associated with repeatedly checking each website.
The above problem was initially solved by email notification. However, the drawback of this was that emails sent in bulk were mistakenly taken for spam and were lost. Also, the problem of disorganization of the emails gets overwhelming to the user. The benefit of using RSS is that notifications of changes to multiple websites are handled easily and the result is distinct from email.
Presently, RSS is used by the internet community for sharing the content of numerous websites, including the dayâ€™s latest headlines from around the world. A recent use of the RSS XML format is for podcasting which is the method of sharing multimedia content among people.