Wednesday, September 28, 2005

RSS - conclusion and summary

That completes the RSS basic and RSS advanced sessions.

I will take some time, add some new material, reorganize the class, and then
do it again at a later date.


I am well aware that we all have multiple demands on our time, but I would
appreciate any comments or critiques as I start the process of refining the
class material.

- I will probably put the material together into an e-book.
- I will certainly add numbers in the subject the next time to keep them in


Please feel free to ask any RSS questions in Tech Talk.


RSS is an exciting technology, and there are new announcements every day. I
look forward to incorporating some of the new RSS Announcements and doing
the class again.



Les Bain
Wizard Creek Consulting

Creating a Feed from Your Website - Generating the RSS Code

Creating an RSS Feed from Your Website - Generating the RSS Feed File


When we created the RSS Feed manually,
- we defined 3 data items for the RSS Feed - title, description, and link.
For each RSS Feed item,
- we also defined 3 data items - title, description, and link.

We then manually added all the RSS Feed Tags like <title> and <description>
and the RSS Feed was complete.


The most efficient way to create an RSS Feed is to use a service or program
- allows you to enter the title, description, and link and then
- the program adds the RSS Feed Tags and generates the RSS Feed file.


Here is one basic service called RSS Headliner.

You enter the basic information (title, description, link) into the website
- The website adds the XML RSS Feed Tags and generates the RSS Feed.
- You must cut-and-paste the code into the RSS Feed file and
- FTP or Upload the RSS Feed to the server


The best product I have seen is FeedForAll (
- It is a program that is downloaded.
- It is a complete package for creating and maintaining RSS Feeds.
- It costs $39.95.
- There is a free 30 day trial period.

It works like this:

- There is a RSS Feed tab so you can select any of multiple RSS Feeds to
work on.
- There is an RSS Item tab where you can add or edit RSS Feed Items.
- The first page allows entry of title, description, and link.
- The second page allows entry of optional elements like author, copyright,
and date.

You provide the title, description, and link, and the program does the rest.

FeedForAll includes an FTP product, so you can upload the RSS Feed file
directly to the server. To create a new RSS Feed Item for an existing RSS
Feed, upload it, and make it available takes 10 - 15 minutes.

However, this product is designed to do multiple feeds on a regular basis.
It might be overkill for one RSS Feed updated infrequently.


My recommendations:

1) If you can, just create the RSS Feed file manually.
2) If you need help with the RSS Feed Tags, use RSS Headliner to generate
the RSS Feed Tags and cut-and-paste into an RSS Feed file.
3) If you maintain multiple feeds with frequent updates, use FeedForAll.
4) If you want the coolest product, use FeedForAll.


Creating a Feed from Your Website - Using Programs

We have been discussing how to create an RSS feed from your website
manually. There are all sorts of programs that are available to create
Feeds from your website.

Some read the website and create an RSS Feed for each webpage, and create
the RSS Feed as follows

- RSS Item title = webpage Title
- RSS Item description = webpage Description Meta Tag
- RSS Item link = webpage URL

Some using the technique known as "scraping" or "screen scraping", which is
reading a website or webpage screen or HTML and trying to make intelligent
decisions about what should be in an RSS Feed.

For each program in this category, they read the website or webpage and
create the RSS Feed.

But lets review. The two characteristics of a website RSS Feed.
- It is just the headline or an announcement that brings people to the
- It is a "what's new" feature for the website

Each of those characteristics means that it is probably going to take manual
intervention to make the programs work.
- If you are using the RSS Feed to announce a new article, you want to
decide how much of the article is enough to entice someone to click and read
the entire article.
- If you are using the RSS Feed to introduce a new product, you want to
decide what should be in the RSS Feed to entice people to come to the
website, review the product, and potentially buy the product.
- If you are using the RSS Feed to announce a meeting or event, you want to
include enough to bring people to the website and have them review the
details of the event or meeting.

All-in-all, I do not recommend any program, product, or system that reads
the website or webpage to try to figure out what should be on the RSS Feed.

Next topic: What I do recommend.

Les Bain
Wizard Creek Consulting

BlogBot for Outlook

"An easy-to-use RSS/ATOM aggregator that plugs into Outlook!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Creating an RSS Feed for your Website - notes

Creating an RSS Feed manually - notes.


- It is certainly easy enough to create a RSS Feed for your website
manually. New technology always has a learning curve, but the format of the
XML file is straightforward.
- We only used the necessary elements to create the RSS Feed example, but it
is certainly functional.
- The real issue is to match the dynamic RSS Feed to a static Website.
- For some, coding the RSS Feed manually takes away all the mystery.


You can use CSS to format your RSS Feed.

- See
If you click on this file, you see the XML code.

- Now click on
It is the same file with CSS added.
Example 3 has one additional line.
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="rss-feed.css"?> that invokes a CSS

- The CSS File is

- It is questionable the value of using CSS to format an RSS Feed, because
an RSS Feed is designed to be read by computer and not by humans, but it can
be done.


There are two more posts to finish up this advanced topic.
- Using programming to create feeds.
- Using products to create feeds.

Creating a Feed from Your Website - Describing a Feed Item

Here is my sample RSS Feed. At this point, it describes just the channel.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>RSS Class</title>
<description>RSS Class: lessons, illustrations, examples and

We are now going to add an RSS Feed Item.
RSS Feed Items are described with
- title,
- description and
- link.

The following is an example of an RSS Feed Item.

<title>Using RSS to create content</title>
<description>This is an example of creating a webpage using

To show that it is an item, we wrap it in <item> tags.

<title>Using RSS to create content</title>
<description>This is an example of creating a webpage using

It is now added to the RSS Feed file. The RSS example feed now looks like

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>RSS Class</title>
<description>RSS Class: lessons, illustrations, examples and

<title>Using RSS to create content</title>
<description>This is an example of creating a webpage using


The RSS Feed file is sent to the server, and the first RSS Feed Item is
available to the Internet. You can use FrontPage or DreamWeaver to do the
entire process of course. You can also use Notepad and any FTP product.

The result is this RSS Feed:

Creating a Feed from Your Website - Adding items to the website feed

The last post we discussed how to create an RSS feed. I provided a
barebones but fully functional outline for an RSS Feed for a website. Here
it is.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>the feed title</title>
<link>the website url</link>
<description>the feed description</description>

The Title, Link, and Description describe the feed. There are more optional
parameters like author, copyright, and date.

Review: To create a feed
- Create a text file with the extension of xml
- Copy and past the lines above
- Fill in the blanks for title, link and description
- FTP the text file to a server
- and people can start subscribing to your feed.

To update the Feed, we add information for items.
- An item is like an entry, a post.
- A channel may contain any number of items.
- An item for a website is a headline or summary of what is on the website,
- The item points back to the website for the full story.

The process is this
- Add one or more items
- FTP the text file back to the server

The RSS Feed aggregators will find the new items and deliver them to your

Next Post: Describing Feed Items

RSS benefits feed into business

"At Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference earlier this month, Bill Gates declared that, 'Windows Vista has actually built a platform around RSS.'"

RSS 2.0 Specification

"RSS 2.0 Specification


* What is RSS?
* Sample files
* About this document
* Required channel elements
* Optional channel elements
* Elements of
* Comments
* Extending RSS
* Roadmap
* License and authorship"

Sunday, September 25, 2005

RSS: Creating a Feed from Your Website - Notes about the Feed

If you are following along with the lessons, you have created a basic RSS
Feed for your website.


You should validate the feed.
- and validate the feed
- if you use Firefox and have the Web Developer Toolbar,
then display the feed and on the Web Developer Toolbar - Tools | Validate

The feed that you created should validate.


There still seems to be a problem with adding feeds to My Yahoo.

If you are having trouble with My Yahoo, you should find a new RSS feed
reader to use for this exercise.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

FeedBurner Aggregate Statistics

"It's been a while since we've discussed any broad metrics here, and nature abhors a lack of charts and graphs, so as the leaves begin to turn and the kids head back to school, we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on a couple of interesting statistics."

Nielsen reports on RSS

"RSS users are more engaged in online news.

83 percent of survey respondants who used RSS were unaware that they were using rss.

Among RSS users who understood the technology, 78 percent were male."

Creating a Feed from Your Website - Creating the Actual Feed

Today: Coding a feed for your website.

OK. Let's create an RSS Feed for your website. If you follow along, you
will have a working RSS Feed for your website at the end of this lesson.
This is not a drill (smile). This will be an actual working RSS feed on the

- It can be used by you from now on to make updates.
- Others can subscribe to your RSS Feed.
- It will be fully functional.

1) Decide on a title for the feed. My website is Wizard Creek Consulting
( The feed I decided to do was for this class,
so my feed title is "RSS Class". A website can have more than one feed.

2) Use Notepad, FrontPage or any other text editor to make a text file.
Name it using your title dot xml. My file is named rss-class.xml. Use
hyphens, not spaces or underlines.

3) Add the following to the file. The commands specify that this is an XML
file, that it is RSS 2.0, and that it has a channel or feed. Everyone should
have the identical statements here. (Feel free to cut and paste of course).

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">

4) Add three statements after <channel> to describe the feed: title, url and

<title>the feed title</title>
<link>website url</link>
<description>feed description</description>

Example of complete feed:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>RSS Class</title>
<description>RSS Class: lessons, illustrations, examples and

5) FTP this to your server. You can use any FTP product. I recommend you
use a folder for RSS because you might have more feeds, but it is not
required. Mine is

- It is now a working RSS feed.
- There are no entries yet. That is the next lesson.
- This is an advanced class, but I can provide some help if you are

Let me make a strong suggestion. This is optional but it could be fun.

If you have created this feed,
- respond to this post and tell us the URL of your feed.
- subscribe to the feeds of others that respond
- subscribe to your own feed
- I will subscribe to the feed of everyone that responds

Next post we will start to add items / entries, and those that have
subscribed will start to see feed entries in their feed readers.

Friday, September 23, 2005

RSS - Creating a Feed from Your Website - "What's new?"

Topic: Creating an RSS feed from your website - how to create and manage
your own feed.

Today: What's New?

RSS Feeds are a "what's new" mechanism. RSS Feeds are a way of sending a
"what's new" message so the recipient knows it is time to revisit the

"What's new" is perfect for a blog, because a blog is a serial set of
entries. The latest post is the "what's new".

But how does that work with a website? Some websites are relatively static.
Some websites are online brochures that do not change much. How does a RSS
Feed work for that kind of website? The answer is simple - it does not. If
you have a static website that does not undergo change, there is no reason
to have a feed.

What if you wanted to add a regular post and then generate a feed? I would
recommend that you consider creating a blog and letting the blog create the
RSS feed.

The RSS Feed does not fit every website.

The "what's new" does not have to be regular or frequent. I subscribe to
RSS Feeds from software sites that inform me when there is a new software
version release. I might get 1 or 2 RSS feed items in a year.

Unlike a blog where some regular updating is recommended, a feed only has to
be sent when there is something new. That could be as little as once or
twice in a year, or for a news feed, it could be every hour.

To create a feed for a website, you must first determine what the feed will
be posting. What is going to be the included in the "What's new?".

What are some examples of feeds from websites?
- The daily menu from a cafeteria website.
- New product announcements.
- Notice of a sale.
- Seasonal announcement
- Invitation to a special event.
- Notification of a new article.
- News story headline
- Sports score
- New software release

The goal is to have the "What's New" of sufficient interest for the
subscriber to follow the link and come back to the website.

Assignment: Is a feed appropriate for your website? What would be the
nature of the feed?

Next topic: Creating the feed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

RSS - creating a Feed from Your Website.

Creating a feed from your website is a new and more advanced topic. I
assume everyone will self regulate whether the topic is appropriate for

Topic: Creating an RSS feed from your website - how to create and manage
your own feed.

- Differences in website and blog feeds.
- Creating feeds from a website: manually, scraping, programming, and
- How to manually create a feed.
- How to write a program to create a feed - overview and resources.
- How to use a product to create a feed from your website.

Today: Let's do some thinking about feeds and websites and blogs.

RSS feeds for a website are designed to do headlines, to do a tease, to get
people to select a link and to go to the website. A website RSS feed is an
advertisement for the full webpage or the full website. The RSS feed
always contains a link back to a website.

An RSS feed for a website is like a movie preview. The movie preview shows
just enough of the movie to make the person want to see the movie.

The feed for your website is a notice or announcement that brings people
back to your website. The goal of the website RSS feed is to entice the
subscriber to click the link and come to your website. The goal is for the
RSS feed to bring visitors back to the website.

It is not the same for a blog. If the blog entry is short, the subscriber
may very well just read the feed and not go to the actual blog entry. I
read many RSS Feeds from blogs where I rarely, if ever, go to the actual
blog. Some subscribers never go to the actual blog. One reads the feed.
That is all.

For a blog, the feed is to alert the subscriber that a new blog post was
written. If the RSS feed subscriber is up-to-date on the blog, all the
subscriber cares about is the latest blog entry. The subscriber does not
care about the rest of the blog.

For a website, you want to bring the visitor back to the website where the
visitor can purchase a product, review your services, read your latest
article, or get acquainted with your business. Each RSS feed entry is
another invitation to come back to the website.

Next post: More discussion about website RSS feeds.

Les Bain

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Feed Autodiscovery

"Among the new features in Firefox 1.0 Preview Release is Live Bookmarks, which lets you view an RSS or Atom feed as a bookmark folder. Firefox takes advantage of RSS Autodiscovery to determine the availability of a feed for your page."

RSS - Conclusion and Summary:

Conclusion and Summary:
This is the last post in the class:


RSS use is growing.
RSS Benefits:
- Use RSS to keep yourself informed.
- Use RSS to create content on your website.
- Use RSS to promote your website or blog.


Some final tidbits and resources:

Register your RSS Feeds in the Feed Directories:

Validate your feed:

Dave Winer was the programmer who developed RSS - his blog about RSS.


RSS Questions are still welcome.
RSS Comments are most welcome. I would appreciate any comments.
- We will consider doing the class again if there is interest.
- Let me know what we can do to improve the class.
- Let me know what worked with the class.
- Let me know whether you want the class again.


Final Recommendation: RSS is a powerful tool and should be considered for every webmaster's tool kit.


Using RSS to bring visitors to your website or blog - using FeedBurner

Topic: Using RSS to bring visitors to your website or blog.

Today: Using FeedBurner

Feedburner is a free service for Feed Publishers. They provide a one-stop fill-in-the-blanks service for working with your feeds.

Disclaimer: I have no interest in FeedBurner. I do use the service. It is free.

1) FeedBurner solves the problem of all the various versions of RSS and ATOM by providing a Feed that works on all Feed Readers.

2) FeedBurner provides a feed that browsers can read by using XSL.
See for an example.
Right click and view source to see what the actual file code looks like.

3) FeedBurner provides capability for podcasts, mobile readers, splices with Photo Services, and Google adsense.

4) FeedBurner solves the problem of providing all the information on how to subscribe to feeds. It is all contained in the feed file itself. Just provide a link to the feed. The feed contains all the other information.

5) FeedBurner provides stats on feed use.

6) FeedBurner provides a service to "Use RSS feeds for content on your Website".
See for an example.
You have CSS Control over the way the Feed looks on your website.

7) FeedBurner provides various promotional buttons to use for your Feed.
See for example.

8) FeedBurner is used by professional sites. FeedBurner manages over 100,000 feeds.

This is my only caution. Proceed with care. Make sure you name things carefully, because after you get subscribers, it is difficult to change. Pay attention to what you learned in SEO class to name your feed.

Feedburner is certainly worth investigating. It can save time and improve your feed product.

This is the last post of the topic Using RSS to bring visitors to your site.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Encourage your visitors to subscribe to your feed

Topic: Using RSS to bring visitors to your website or blog.
Today: Encourage your blog visitors to subscribe to your Feed

Now that your blog has a Feed (either RSS or Atom), provide a way for your visitor to subscribe to the feed.

I am surprised when I visit blogs that have feeds, but have nothing on the blog to encourage visitors to subscribe. (I peek at the HTML source to find out there is a Feed.) It is a little like publishing an ezine with no way for people to sign-up for the ezine.

This is a very easy step. There is no reason not to.
This is how to encourage your visitors to subscribe to your Feed.

The basics:
- Create a hyperlink on your blog that points to your feed URL. The anchor text can say "RSS" or "Feed" or "RSS Feed" or "Subscribe to my Feed". That is all that is required to get started.

Add a graphic:
- You can add one of the orange RSS or XML graphics to the hyperlink. The following directory has a random collection of RSS and XML graphics.

Add buttons:
- You can add special buttons for those that use the popular RSS Readers. Yahoo, Bloglines and Newsgator have instructions for webmasters to make it easy for your visitors to subscribe. Most of them generate the HTML for you.

for Yahoo -
for Bloglines -
For Newsgator -

And the final optional piece:
- You can include a link to a URL that describes what a feed is for those that have no idea.

Here is just one of many examples where someone did a thorough job of helping people to subscribe. (Scroll down to How to subscribe to our RSS feeds)


And if all that is too much, you can use FeedBurner, which is the next topic.

Using RSS to bring visitors to your blog - create a feed

Last topic: Using RSS to bring visitors to your website or blog.
Today: Create a Feed from your Blog.


Some people prefer to get RSS Feeds rather than revisit blogs. It is easy to accommodate them if you have a blog.

If you have a blog, I recommend you generate the feed. Most every blog service has the capability to generate feeds. It is usually just a parameter that one has to turn on to get the RSS or Atom feed. There is no reason not too, and many reasons to do it.

Some blog services give the option to create multiple feeds in different versions of RSS. That has some merit because you provide for each type of user, but now most Feed Readers read all versions. So, I recommend you create just one feed, and if you have a choice pick RSS 2.0.


Treat your RSS Feed File with respect. It might bring you many visitors over time. Give it the same care you give to your site. Investigate the options. Keep an eye on it.


Some blog services add the name of the feed to the blog HTML.

Do a view source of your blog and between and look for statements like the following
link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="name of feed" href="Feed-URL"
link rel="alternate" type="text/xml" title="name of feed" href="Feed-URL"
link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="name of feed" href="Feed-URL"

- View source and observe that WordPress has the option to generate feeds for multiple versions.
- If you are using Firefox, click the orange icon at the right of the status bar. Did that generate an "ah ha"?

- View source for another example.
- I changed mine from the Blogger default to another option.
- If you are using Firefox, click the orange icon at the right of the status bar.

Ok, that should have been easy. Turn on the Feed Generation from your blog.

Next Lesson: Helping people subscribe to your feed.

XML security gateway expanded to support RSS feeds

"Colorado Springs, Colo. — Reactivity Inc. is offering its XML security gateway to Really Simple Syndication (RSS) publishing and subscription applications. The move is being made in collaboration with SimpleFeed Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif., company working to simplify RSS subscription duties."

RSS gets its due at Microsoft developer conference

"LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't mentioned as often as Windows was, but one techie term was uttered with extraordinary frequency during Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference here last week: RSS."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Use RSS to put content on your website or blog - resources

If you have decided to put content on your website or blog using RSS - here are some resources.

It is beyond the scope of this discussion to review each of the tools. If you are going through this discussion just to learn in general about RSS, this post can be ignored.


Article: "Display RSS Feeds" -
This is an excellent article that discusses the various ways to put RSS Content on your website, including Javascript, PHP, ASP, and XSL. Pros and Cons of each are discussed.


Service: Feed Digest

I recommend FeedDigest to start. FeedDigest provides a comprehensive set of tools and instructions to use RSS content on a website. Like many web services, you can do a small number for no cost. Fees apply after that. Feed Digest provides the service, the script code, and the formatting. You just need to insert into your website.

Feed digest examples:


Service: FeedBurner

FeedBurner offers various services to feed publishers. If you use FeedBurner already, they have a tool to display feeds on a website. FeedBurner also creates code that must be copied and inserted into your website or blog. The FeedBurner display can be controlled using CSS. This is a free service.

FeedBurner example:


Scripts: FeedforAll

FeedforAll provides RSS to HTML scripts. These scripts required more effort and expertise, but they allow more control.

FeedForAll example:


FeedDigest and FeedBurner are fill-in-the-blank services. They are designed to be easy to use, but you are dependent on the service.

FeedforAll provides scripts for Webmasters to take and use. They offer more flexibility. They are more work.


This concludes the topic of Using RSS to add content to your website.

The next and last topic: Using RSS to get more visitors to your site.

Use RSS to put content on your website or blog - introduction

You can use RSS to put content on your website or blog. Usually this means putting headlines or a short paragraph of information on your website or blog with a link back to the original post or article.

If for example, you used an RSS Feed for Google news, it could look something like this. Each of the entries would be a link back to the news article.
Google News
» Bonds OK with career winding down - MSNBC
» Annan Urges World Leaders to Fight Terror - Washington Post
» Car Bombing at Iraq Market Leaves 30 Dead - Guardian Unlimited

Some reasons to use RSS to create content.

- If you have two related blogs, you can provide links back and forth to the recent posts.
- You can provide a sidebar of news or sports.
- You can generate a quick webpage.
- You can provide links to your blog from your website.
- Because it is fun? Interesting? Because you can?

Some issues about doing using RSS to create content.
- You have to be aware of copyright issues when using other's content. Many RSS publishers want you to use their RSS Feeds because it generates traffic back to their site, but each case is different.
- Putting RSS Feeds on your website or blog is not for the faint hearted. There are some services that are making it much easier, but it involves adding scripts to your website or blog. That script can be JavaScript, PHP, ASP, or others. All the usual script issues apply. Your site visitors can have scripts turned off. Your server might not support the script you would like to use.
- The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) issues will not be discussed in this group.

To learn more:
Article: "How You Can Instantly Tap Into an Unlimited Source of Content, for Free!" This article is overly dramatic, but a good overview.

Some Examples of using RSS feeds on a website or blog. These are all from my website or blogs. They were created in large part just to be examples. - part of a webpage from RSS feed. Find the box that says "The Feed Reader". - full webpage is generated from RSS feed. - another full webpage is generated from an RSS Feed. - a blog sidebar for Google News is generated from an RSS Feed.

This is a two part topic.
- This post introduces the concept and give some examples.
- The next post will be list of resources of scripts or services if you want to include RSS feeds on your website or blog.

Friday, September 16, 2005

AOL Survey Says: People Blog as Therapy

"A new AOL blog survey shows most bloggers are not aspiring 'cyber journalists' or political activists; they blog as a form of therapy.

According to the AOL 'Blog Trends Survey,' nearly 50% of bloggers say they do it because it serves as self-therapy, and one-third of bloggers who responded say they write frequently about self-help and self-esteem topics. The survey also revealed that when it comes to relieving real-life pressures or dealing with personal issues or tragedies, six times as many respondents prefer to write in their blog or read blogs written by others suffering from similar problems rather than to seek counseling from a professional."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Displaying RSS Feeds

"Displaying RSS
RSS offers webmasters a unique opportunity to display fresh content on websites. While publishing an RSS feed is a great way to generate site interest and increase communication, syndicating and displaying feeds from related relevant sources can also generate interest, increase traffic and improve search engine ranking."

RSS & Podcasting

What is podcasting and what does it have to do with RSS?
Podcasting is a method of publishing audio using the Internet.  The Podcast, usually an MP3 file, is recorded, up-loaded to the Internet, downloaded onto another computer, and tranferred to an IPOD or another MP3 player.  You can subscribe to podcasts, connect the IPOD to the computer, use iTunes or IPodder software, and fill up your IPOD with podcast audio.  It enables individuals to become audio publishers and individuals to build a custom virtual radio station.
Podcasts are RSS 2.0 enclosures.  The actual XML code would look something like this:
<enclosure url="" length="12345678" type="audio/mpeg" />
An RSS feed with an audio enclosure is a podcast. 

RSS Directories

Subject: RSS / Feed Directories

In a previous post, we discussed search engines for Feeds. This post is about blog directories and RSS/Feed directories.

There are directories for blogs, directories for feeds, and directories for both blogs and feeds combined. I created a webpage of directories for blogs and directories for feeds, but there is overlap in the two categories. Following is the link for the directories: Blog and RSS/Feed Directories

One can find RSS/Feeds using search engines, directories, or by finding feeds as you surf the web.


This completes the first and longest step of this discussion which was "Using RSS to stay informed".

The next two sections will be
- Using RSS to add content to your website.
- Using RSS to bring visitors to your website.

It is time now to raise any questions or issues about the first part of this discussion.
- If you are having trouble finding an RSS Feed Reader and/or RSS Feeds, it is time to respond with questions.
- If you have discovered an RSS Reader that I have not mentioned, this is a good time to share that information.
- If you have discovered something about RSS that is worth sharing, please do so.
- If RSS is still not making sense, this is the time to ask for clarification.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

RSS in the News

This is a bonus post on some recent RSS developments.

The large Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference) is in Los Angeles all this week. Any attendee of the conference can blog about their conference experience. There are 647 people at the conference writing blogs about it. All of them have RSS Feeds.

There has been lots of RSS news at the conference, including in Bill Gates keynote address.

- Vista (The new version of Windows)will have RSS built in.
- Office will have RSS capability
- Outlook will be able to read RSS Feeds
- Internet Explorer 7 will have RSS aggregating capability
- SharePoint will have RSS Capability built in

I listened to one interview where Bill Gates talked about RSS as the way Microsoft will be connecting applications together

One reference for those interested:

"Microsoft gives RSS a big bear hug"
"RSS is now a pillar of Microsoft's strategy to make loosely coupled client/server the preferred architecture to Web-based thin client computing."

What does that all mean? RSS is rapidly moving from new technology to a pervasive technology.

What makes a weblog a weblog?

"At Berkman we're studying weblogs, how they're used, and what they are. Rather than saying "I know it when I see it" I wanted to list all the known features of weblog software, but more important, get to the heart of what a weblog is, and how a weblog is different from a Wiki, or a news site managed with software like Vignette or Interwoven. I draw from my experience developing and using weblog software (Manila, Radio UserLand) and using competitive products such as Blogger and Movable Type. This piece is being published along with my keynotes at OSCOM and the Jupiter weblogs conference. And a disclaimer: This is a work in progress. There may be subsequent versions as the art and market for weblog software develops. Dave Winer, June 2003, Cambridge MA."

Microsoft gives RSS a big bear hug

"Microsoft is using RSS 2.0 as a major conduit of myriad content — including business-to-business applications interactions — inside, across, and for wide area import/export of feeds throughout its software systems. Remember the digital nervous system? Well, RSS just became a new variety of spine. Very cool."

RSS Review


RSS has 3 benefits for the website owner
1) Use RSS Feeds to keep yourself informed
2) Use RSS Feeds to find content for your website
3) Use RSS Feeds to bring visitors to your website

We are working on step one.
- We have discussed RSS Feed Readers
- I have recommended that you start to use an RSS Feed Reader to learn about RSS and Feeds.
- If you have an RSS Feed reader that you are now using, you have the opportunity to find RSS feeds, subscribe to them, and have your own personalized news service.

Lets review how RSS Feeds work:

1) A website or a blog creates a Feed. Many Blog services can create RSS Feeds by just selecting an option. Other sites can also create feeds.

2) The Feed is an XML file that lives on an Internet server. There are now hundreds of thousands of RSS Feeds sitting on Internet servers waiting patiently for an RSS Reader to subscribe to them.

3) The RSS Feed Reader website reads the XML file and displays it. There is software that can make any website an RSS Reader.

See for an example of all three steps.

Finding and Subscribing to RSS Feeds.
Using RSS to add content to your website or blog.
Using RSS to bring visitors to your website or blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Finding Feeds - Search

The major search engines are all in the process of adding Feed Search.


MSN just announced a feed search.
Enter feed:keyword and find feeds for any topic.
Enter hasfeed:keyword to find sites that generate feeds on a topic


Google just announced their blog/feed search.

Notes about Google Blog Search:
- Google calls in a Blog Search, but it only includes blogs that publish a
site feed (either RSS or Atom), so it is also being called a feed search.
- Even though Google owns Blogger (a blog service), it searches all blogs.
- The Google Blog Search will find blogs that have feeds, but we know there
are some feeds without blogs.
- And of course, it is in Beta.


Yahoo is testing blog search in Korea


Next: Find feeds using feed directories and smaller feed search engines.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Getting Started with RSS .... Continued (2)

Another lighter post today as I give everyone a chance to find an RSS Reader and get started.


Another RSS quote:

"It is clear that the aggregated news model is rapidly becoming the preferred method of online consumer news consumption,"
said Jim Pitkow, chief executive officer and president of Moreover Technologies.


Orange is the color of RSS and RSS Feeds.

The buttons and icons for RSS, XML and Feeds are usually orange. There are exceptions of course, but orange is the de facto standard.

Google calls the Google Desktop Sidebar RSS Reader Web Clips - but it is orange!

"RSS" or "XML" or "FEED" in an orange button alerts one to a Feed.


Firefox has a special feature for RSS feeds. If you are using Firefox and browsing a website that has an associated feed, an orange! icon shows up on the status bar to the lower right.

To illustrate: (Only in Firefox)

1) Click on my website - no orange icon on the status bar.
2) Select Blogging Info or go to - there is now an orange icon on the status bar. It signifies that there is an associated feed for this website.

Click on the icon and you can add a live bookmark that is really an RSS/ATOM Feed Reader. It will create a bookmark for each entry on the Feed.

Technical note: You are not subscribing to the blog, you are subscribing to the feed. The feed is Firefox automatically finds the feed.


Continue to work on finding an RSS reader and getting familiar with RSS Feeds.

Coming attractions:

Finding RSS Feeds
Putting RSS Feeds on your website
Creating RSS Feeds for the world to see.

The RSS Space: The Next Google

"Recently I made an attempt at defining 'The RSS Space'. Based on some great discussions with VCs and wise people in the RSS business, we came up with the following categorization for RSS vendors:"

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Getting Started with RSS... continued

I want to give some time for people to get started reading RSS Feeds, so the
posts will be lighter for a few days.


Here is a good quote by Dave Winer, the programmer who developed RSS:

"When people ask me what RSS is, I say it's automated web surfing. We took
something lots of people do, visiting sites looking for new stuff, and
automated it. It's a very predictable thing, that's what computers do --
automate repetitive things."


The Google Desktop - Sidebar Option - has an RSS Feed Reader built in. It
is called Web Clips. The Web Clips help says - "You can also manually add
RSS/Atom feeds to see updates to your favorite blogs and other websites."

But Web Clips has another optional option that is most interesting. If you
surf a website (using IE or Firefox) that has a feed, the Feed is
automatically added to Web Clips.


Anyone have any questions about getting started with a RSS Feed Reader?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Getting Started with RSS

That is enough introduction and theory about RSS. Let's get started using

The first step is finding, subscribing and reading RSS feeds.

To subscribe and read RSS Feeds you need a tool. The tools all do the same
general things, but they have several names. They are called Feed Readers,
News Aggregators, or RSS feed readers. If you want to learn about RSS, I
recommend that you find a tool and get started reading RSS Feeds.

Here is a directory of RSS Feed Readers / News Aggregators just to give an
idea about how many there are.

There are three basic types of RSS Readers.

1) Web-based RSS Feed Readers. These are websites that provide access to
RSS Feeds. Pick one of these if you want to set up a RSS Feed Reader that is
web based and can be used from any computer that can access the Internet.

They can be portal sites that include RSS Feeds. Examples:
- My Yahoo -
- Personalized Google Homepage -

They can be websites that exist only to provide access to RSS feeds.
- Bloglines -
- Rocket RSS Reader -

2) Desktop based RSS Feed Readers.

These are programs you download, install, and run on the desktop.
- Feed Demon -
Mac OS X
- NetNewsWire -
- Straw -

3) Outlook based products
These are Outlook add-on products that deliver the RSS Feeds to Outlook
- NewsGator -
- IntraVnews -
(I use IntraVnews because I like the feeds delivered to Outlook.)

This lesson will require several posts, but I would recommend that you find
one of the tools and start to use it. If you cannot make up your mind, then
use My Yahoo. You must have a Yahoo account to be a part of Tech Talk, so
set-up will be minimal.

This lesson will continue with finding and subscribing to RSS Feeds.

Let me know if you have problems finding or using an RSS Feed Reader.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What is RSS?

There are lots of articles that describe RSS and what it is. The reason there are lots of articles is because it is not easy to describe.

Here is a great video that introduces RSS.

Now for the terms. Let's review the terms.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the presentation language of the web. It is the language that communicates with human readers. It is the language of websites and webpages.

XML - (Extensible Markup Language) is the language of the web that is used to communicate with computers. It is used to allow for the easy interchange of documents on the World Wide Web.

RSS is one of the dialects of XML.

There are various flavors of RSS. One flavor is different enough to have another name - ATOM.

Web Feeds - some people prefer the more generic term "web feeds" or just "feeds" to describe RSS and all of its flavors. Products like FeedDemon and FeedBurner capture this terminology.

Microsoft supposedly is debating whether to use the term "web feeds" or "RSS" for the new version of Windows.

Confused? Lots of people are. But we know the internet is chaotic and it will get sorted out over time.

Just know that "RSS" and "RSS Feed" and "Web Feed" and "Feed" usually mean the same thing. That some people also use the term "XML" to identify a Web Feed.

I use the terms "RSS" or "RSS Feed" because those are the most popular terms at this point in time.

To summarize:
- XML files are for document exchange.
- Web feeds are a subset of XML Files.
- Web feeds include all the flavors of RSS, including ATOM.

That is enough introduction - the next topic is how to get started using RSS. The best way to understand RSS is to use it.

RSS. How can it help? How can this tool be used effectively.

We all know that RSS is one of the hot new technologies. But what is it
good for?

It is customary to start with what RSS is, but I am going to talk about 3
benefits of RSS to anyone who has a website.

RSS can help us do three things.

1) RSS can help find updated information on the internet that can help us
stay current in our areas of expertise.

RSS comes close to fulfilling the promise of a custom newspaper or magazine
that is delivered to our desktop as it happens.

My RSS reader delivers to my desktop a custom mix of articles on news,
sports, technology, computer security, call centers, cellular technology,
gourmet coffee, personal growth, website development, information
technology... and of course RSS. I continually refine this daily flow of
information, dropping those that get stale, picking up new ones like I did
for additional Katrina news.

The news blogs are updated hourly, but most of the blogs are updated weekly,
so it is very manageable set of information. It is delivered in headline
form, and I can choose whether to read the entire article. RSS reduces my
surfing time; gives me more reading time.

2) RSS can help provide content for websites and blogs.

RSS feeds can be used to provide content for websites and blogs. Tools are
available that can capture RSS feeds and put the information on a website or
blog. Most of them are point and click kinds of tools that require no

3) RSS can bring additional traffic to a website or blog.

RSS is getting more and more popular. Those of us who are using RSS readers
to get information, want to subscribe to information that we can read as RSS
feeds. I do not want to go check to see if a blog or website has been
updated. I want updated blogs and websites to show up on my desktop. The
RSS Feeds will point back to the blogs or websites for the complete article,
and will bring additional traffic to the blog or website.

RSS can provide these 3 benefits: (1) help keep us current, (2) provide
content for our websites and blogs, and (3 ) bring traffic to our websites
and blogs.
The next post will describe what RSS is.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Why RSS? What is the fuss all about?

RSS is getting a great deal of attention in the tech press. What is all the fuss about? Should RSS be part of your Internet toolkit? I will be providing some information on RSS in a discussion format here on Tech Talk.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

Note: None of these following references are required reading or even recommended reading. They are just to give a bit of flavor for the kind of press RSS is getting.

1) The major companies are implementing RSS.

Microsoft is building RSS into the latest version of Windows now called Vista.

If you personalize your Google home page, you can add RSS Feeds.

If you use My Yahoo, you can add RSS Feeds.

2) RSS is enjoying some great tech hype. One example: "RSS is probably the most powerful marketing tool emerging in internet publishing today."

3) RSS tools are multiplying.
RSS tools are now available for Dreamweaver (RSS Dreamfeeder)

Tina sent us the article "Creating an RSS Feed for Your FrontPage Web Site."

4) Steve Gillmor, who has one of the most popular technical podcasts - the Gilmor Gang, pronounces we are now in the Syndisphere. "Not the Blogosphere so much as the Syndisphere."

I subscribe to almost 100 RSS Feeds, including feeds created by people who are on this Yahoo list - and some of you do NOT make it easy to subscribe. (smile). I generate 14 RSS feeds. This post is also on an RSS feed.

Let's discuss what the fuss is all about. Discussion will be about RSS and how RSS can be used. Questions and comments are welcome. Let me know if you have specific questions to be answered.

Creating an RSS Feed for Your FrontPage Web Site

Summary: Learn about RSS and how to programmatically create an RSS file for your FrontPage 2003 Web site.

Forrester Research: Technology research and advice.

"Today, only 6 percent of online consumers read blogs and 2 percent use RSS"

RSS Writer

"If you don't have a server that is able to generate RSS feeds, then you can manually create them with RSS Writer. All you need to do is upload the XML file once you have entered your content."

SoloSub - RSS Subscription process made easier

"SoloSub allows you to point subscribers to one url (see example), and then your subscriber selects which Feed reader they are using. We hope to eliminate the subscription button clutter found on the web today."

About Feeds (XML, RSS and Atom)

"Many websites have links labeled 'XML' or 'RSS' or 'Atom'. All of these are ways of saying that you can find out about updates to that site without having to browse to it yourself to check."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sept 2, 2005: International Blogging for Disaster Relief Day

"Therefore, I'd like to unilaterally declare tomorrow, Friday September 2, as International Blogging for Disaster Relief Day.

If you have a blog, here's what you can do. Sometime tomorrow, take a break from whatever it is you usually blog about, and post something constructive related to disaster relief. You can keep it topical to your blog: for example, if you usually blog about pets, blog about Noah's Wish or another entity working to rescue and reunite hurricane-affected pets with their families. Or, you can just dedicate blog space to listing websites where people can donate money (maybe even challenge people to match your donation), or share a story of a hurricane survivor. This goes for photo bloggers, podcasters and video bloggers as well - there's no reason why this should be text-only."