What is RSS?

June 23, 2006


What can RSS do for me?

The main benefit of using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) 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, it 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 a feed icon, it’s usually linked to a webpage or file. This URL is sometimes called a feed.

Examples of 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 feeds will update them every time they update content on their website.

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

There are a number of 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 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 reader.
3. Once you have done that you will be subscribed to that feed.
4. Your reader will notify you when new content is added to the webpage.
5. You can read the new content in your 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 reader.
3. Your 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.


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.