The average user that reads my blog may be like, what the hell is RSS? I will give a brief overview of what RSS is and what it can do for you.
What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, it is mainly used in blogs, like this one, and more recently news sites, like CNN.com have at least one feed. These days, almost any site that is regularly updated has a feed. Going back to CNN, it has somewhere between two and three dozen alone for just its one site. [CNN's RSS List]
A RSS Feed is a link to a special file, which gets various things about new stories that are added to a website. If you are a LiveJournal user, it is how you grab all the posts in listed as your friends, and those are put into your ‘friends’ page. The most prevalent use I would say for the common user would be for news, or if you have a few friends that update their blog on a daily bases or maybe multiple times a day. I have approximately 120 feeds that I “watch.” These are mainly news/political related, so I can keep semi-on-top of things, and no, I don’t read each item.
How do I use RSS?
The first step before actually using a feed is to determine if the site you would like to keep track of actually has a feed. For Firefox and Internet Explorer 7.0+ users, the web browser literally tells you the current site has a feed. In Firefox you will see an orange icon on the far right of your address bar. In Internet Explorer, there is a feed icon on the “command bar” and it also turns orange when you visit a site with RSS. Other browsers have various ways of handling feeds.
Here’s a pretty good summary of what I said:
Anyway, I started this post the other week because I came interested in how RSS worked. in actuality it is pretty darn easy. You just need access to the database (user name, password, the database name, and the host location), then a little XML, and PHP. With the PHP, all you need to know is how to do a loop, and there you go, you have a feed. I did this, and made my own feed by hand for this blog, as well as just a few random posts from here.[?]