Back to Blog Home

What is RSS?

Do these logos look familiar?

Are you very confused about what they are for? I can help.

If you see these logos on a website it means that it supports ‘RSS’.

What can RSS do for me?

The main benefit of using RSS is that you will be notified when a webpage is updated. 

Examples of this include, someone posting a new entry on our blog, someone updating content on our website, or even someone posting new topic on our Forum.  Basically, RSS allows you to find out when new content is added to a website.

Normally, if you were interested in determining if a website has been updated with new content, you would have to visit that website over and over again.  RSS solves this problem.

How does it work?

When you see those logos in image above, they are usually linked to a webpage or file.  This URL is sometimes called a feed or RSS feed.

Examples of feeds or RSS feeds:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/IntersectionOnline/
http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_tech.rss
http://www.loudthinking.com/index.rdf

The website that provides the RSS feeds will update their feeds every time they update content on their website.

Next, in order to use this RSS feed, you will need a RSS reader.  What a RSS reader does is checks the feed several times per hour.  Instead of you checking a website many times for updates, an RSS reader will check for you and notify you if there is any new content.

There are a number of RSS readers to choose from.  Some of them are installed to your computer and some are run online.

I recommend FeedReader for beginners, because I found it easy to use and more importantly, free.  You may also want to consider using Bloglines if you want to keep track of your RSS feeds online.

Here’s a more extensive list.

How do I set it up?

1. Every website that supports RSS, will have a logo that links to a URL (or feed)
2. Copy this URL and add it to your RSS reader.
3. Once you have done that you will be subscribed to that feed.
4. Your RSS Reader will notify you when new content is added to the webpage.
5. You can read the new content in your RSS reader, or access the content directly on the website.  The choice is yours.

Review:
1. Websites that support RSS will provide you with a URL.
2. Add the URL to your RSS Reader.
3. Your RSS reader will notify you when new content is available.

Please post any questions you have regarding RSS feeds below.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog.


  • http://www.ncsacademy.com/profileview.cfm?profile=1133339 Partridge Family Man

    Thanks for providing this article. I have been interested in the new “Web 2.0″ type thngs that have been going on. Until now, I didn’t really understand an RSS feed. I think it’s time to go get a reader and digg in.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/ Daniel Tsang

    Hi Partridge Family Man,

    I am happy to hear my post helped you understand what RSS was about. If there was anything in my post that you found confusing or you believe could be further clarified, please do not hesitate to let me know. Thanks for the comment.

  • Kimverly

    Sorry, I Still don’t understand just what the RSS does. HELP!

  • http://www.freshbooks.com Daniel Tsang

    Hi Kimverly,

    Thank you for commenting. Was there something in particular or more specific I could help clarify? Thanks.

    -Daniel

  • http://www.deletespyware-adware.com/ Karl Sultana

    Exactly how do I add my rss field of a blogger blog to My MSN and My Yahoo?

  • http://www.freshbooks.com Daniel Tsang

    Hi Karl,

    Instructions on how to add a normal RSS feed to My MSN or My Yahoo, can be found at the following web addresses:

    http://rss.msn.com/more.armx
    http://my.yahoo.com/s/rss-faq.html#addrss

    If you wish to subscribe to your FreshBooks’ system RSS feed. You will need to use a secure reader. I am not sure if Yahoo and MSN support both secure and password-protected feeds. However, FeedReader works great. Instructions on how to add your FreshBooks system RSS feed can be found at the following web address:

    http://www.freshbooks.com/blog/2006/08/23/how-to-add-your-rss-feed/

    Cheers,

    -Daniel

  • http://smallbiztrends.com Anita Campbell

    Hi, the RSS feed feature in your product seems neat, except, what would the feed tell you? As a customer, what would I use my feed in Freshbooks for?

    I know all about RSS, I just don’t follow what the feed will tell me about my Freshbooks account (which I just set up and have not yet used).

    Thanks,
    Anita

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#levi Levi Cooperman

    Hi Anita,

    Good question. The RSS feed can actually be very useful, it provides information on all of your FreshBooks recent activity that you would see when you log into your account on your home tab.

    Information such as whether someone paid an invoice, created a support ticket, or a created a new invoice is all streamed to your RSS reader without you having to log into your FreshBooks account.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    - Levi

  • Pingback: Web development: how to stay current

  • http://www.ers-relay.com Marcus

    I still don’t understand about RSS thingy and find it very confusing! Daniel, do you enjoy using it? Oh yes, I forgot to send you a video link re that annoying mini form! LOL LOL

    It would be great if you add a video to train us how to add RSS!

  • Pingback: web development trends « Ramesh Mantha’s Home Page

  • cbrown

    Isn’t logging into the RSS reader as much trouble as simply loggng into your FB acct to see what has been happening. I know this is huge for some and I ‘get’ what RSS is …. but I am still not completely grasping why this is important or how it would be really userul in the day to day of my biz. I suspect there IS a big reason… but I’m not seeing it yet.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#daniel Daniel Tsang

    @cbrown:

    It really depends on your RSS reader. For example my desktop RSS reader (Feedreader) automatically pulls my RSS data for me. I do not need to login to anything. I just click on an icon on my taskbar to access all my data. In addition, my RSS reader also keeps a complete history of my account. I can go back as far as I want and see what kind of activity occurred as well as mark certain events as read and perform search an sorts. Lastly, RSS is pretty universal these days, so you can use it with your many mobile devices when you are on the go.

  • odom1

    Greetings,

    Will RSS reveal the following about a client:?:
    1. when they opened the estimate
    2. how long they viewed it
    Someone once told me this is possible, but not how to set it up.
    Thanks!

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#daniel Daniel Tsang

    @odom1,

    Sadly, the RSS feed will not contain that information. Instead, it will let you know when your client last logged in as well as when they accepted an estimate.

  • Brett

    Is there a way to get the RSS updates sent to my GMAIL inbox? That way I can access the entire history from within my GMAIL. Thanks.

  • Brett

    I do not see the RSS feed link on the home page of my newly created FB account. Where is it exactly?

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#daniel Daniel Tsang

    @Brett,

    If you can find a third party service that emails you RSS updates, then that might work. Sadly, I know Google’s own RSS reader will not work with the RSS feed since online service avoid storing your administrative username and password used to access your RSS feed.

    As for why the RSS feed link on your homepage might not be visible, if you are using a brand new FreshBooks account we display some introductory information for the first few times you login. Once you login/logout a few times, your more advanced homepage will appear. Sorry about the inconvenience.

    Best Regards,

    -Daniel

  • Brett

    Daniel: Can you recommend /suggest a third party service for forwarding my RSS updates from feedreader (or other)? I don’t know where to begin my search. Thanks very much!

    Also, I’d like to get my RSS updates on my Android mobile phone. Do you know if something like feedreader exists for Android (that you might recommend) ? This would be INCREDIBLY useful to me as I’m out in the field quite a lot. THANKS!

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#daniel Daniel Tsang

    Hi Brett,

    Here is our other recommended Feed Readers:
    - Pluck (web-based)
    - NewsGator (web-based)
    - Shrook (mac)

    I’m not sure if something like feedreader exists or not for Android, but the key two features that the rss reader must do are:

    1. Work with secure SSL feeds. Feeds starting with https://
    2. Work with authenticated URLs. It works with feeds that store username and passwords.

    Sorry, I don’t have an android mobile phone so I don’t have a particular software I could recommend.

    Best Regards,

    -Daniel

  • Brett

    Daniel: I went to Pluck’s website, and I dont understand where to find the rss reader application. Their site seems to promote a ‘social applications’ service technology (w/related sdk’s ,etc), and I’m not finding the RSS reader you mention. Can you point me in the right direction?

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#daniel Daniel Tsang

    Hi Brett,

    Thanks for the quick follow up. I checked out their website and you are right. We should update our list in our application. It seems like Pluck has discontinued support of their RSS products. NewsGator still offers RRS feedreaders though:

    http://www.newsgator.com/rss-readers.aspx

  • Pingback: RSS Goodness

Categories

About FreshBooks

FreshBooks is an online invoicing, time
tracking
and expense management
service that helps people save time, get
paid faster, look professional and focus on
what they love to do - their work.


Rodney's 404 Handler Plugin plugged in.