Maybe you've heard of it or have noticed the little RSS or XML icons on some of the web-sites you visit. So what in the world is RSS?
I can’t really say this any better than the folks at FeedBurner, so here’s a quote from their site .
"‘RSS’ stands for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and/or Rockdale, Sandow, and Southern (Railroad) (if you trust the good folks at AcronymFinder.com). Really Simple Syndication is probably the most widely agreed-upon choice. As far as we are concerned, all three acronyms do an inadequate job of describing what RSS actually is: RSS is a standard for publishing regular updates to web-based content. Using this standard, Web publishers provide updates, such as the latest news headlines or weblog postings. Meanwhile, consumers use RSS reader applications (or one of a growing number of online services) to collect and monitor their favorite feeds in one place (RSS content from a publisher, viewed in one of these readers, is often called a "feed").
Consumer Bottom Line: RSS makes reviewing a large number of sites in a very short time possible.
Publisher Bottom Line: RSS permits instant distribution of content updates to consumers."
That’s it in a nutshell. Pretty simple, eh?
If I’ve piqued your interest enough to give RSS a try, then there are lots of options. I’ll tell you what I’m doing, point you to some cool sites, and then let you make up your own mind.
If your PC (yes – I’m assuming everyone here uses a PC with Windows. If you're running a Mac or a PC with Linux, I’ll forgive you – just kidding, I love Linux!) desktop is anything like mine, then you’re already running so much stuff that you hate to add, yet another, application to that system tray that’s already overflowing with icons. That’s why I use a reader that integrates into my browser.
Before I go on, let me just say for the record, that I’m a big Microsoft fan. That said, IE stinks! No really, I mean stinks bad! You’ve been wondering what that smell was, now you know. As you might imagine, I don’t use IE unless I have to (some sites require it). Instead, I use a browser called Firefox, which provides a browsing experience far superior to IE6. So, if you’re still using IE6, or worse, an older version of IE, then shame on you, you’re missing out on a lot of what the web has to offer, so giddy’up and install Firefox today. Geez, I sound like a commercial don’t I. I wonder if the folks over at Mozilla would pay me for this stuff. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Just in case your wondering where Microsoft is on all of this, they weren't planning to release a new browser until the release of their next version of Windows, some time in 2006. Mozilla released Firefox late in 2004 and it’s taken the web by storm, which, in turn, has caused Microsoft to change their tune and focus on releasing a new version of IE before the production releases of Windows next year. IE7 will copy a lot of the Firefox features, one of which will be full RSS support. It’ll take a lot more than RSS support to get me back in the IE camp though ;)
I got a bit sidetracked there. My point in that diatribe was that I use Firefox as my default browser. For RSS I use a nifty Firefox extension called Sage. The reader is simple, yet very effective, and best of all, it runs directly in my browser. It also has a cool feature that allows you to click a button and the tool will search the current page for feeds. Anyone familiar with RSS will appreciate that searching for feeds on a page can, at times, be a pain in the tush.
OK, now for some links to learn more;