What Are RSS Aggregators?
by Jo Han Mok
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Published on this site: October 19th, 2007 - See
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One of the most popular features of Internet portals,
websites, pages and even emails is a frame that features an
organized list of news headlines and periodic updates from
other web sources. Really Simple Syndication, formerly
"Rich Site Summary" or simply, RSS makes this possible.
Most users visit a lot of websites whose content
continually change, such as news sites, community
organization or professional association information pages,
medical websites, product support pages, and blogs. As
Internet surfing became an intrinsic part of business and
leisure, it became important to get rid of the very tedious
task of repeatedly returning to each website to see updated
RSS easily distributes information from different websites
to a wider number of Internet users. RSS aggregators are
programs that use RSS to source these updates, and then
organize those lists of headlines, content and notices for
easy reading. It allows computers to automatically
retrieve and read the content that users want, then track
changes and personalize lists of headlines that interests
The specially made computer programs called "RSS
aggregators" were created to automatically find and
retrieve the RSS feeds of pre-selected internet sites on
behalf of the user and organize the results accordingly.
(RSS feeds and aggregators are also sometimes referred to
as "RSS Channels" and "RSS Readers".
The RSS aggregator is like a web browser for RSS content.
HTML presents information directly to users, and RSS
automatically lets computers communicate with one another.
While users use browsers to surf the web then load and view
each page of interest, RSS aggregators keeps track of
changes to many websites. The titles or descriptions are
links themselves and can be used to load the web page the
RSS starts with an original Web site that has content made
available by the administrator. The website creates an RSS
document and registers this content with an RSS publisher
that will allow other websites to syndicate the documents.
The Web site also produces an RSS feed, or channel, which
is available together with all other resources or documents
on the particular Web server. The website will register
the feed as an RSS document, with a listed directory of
appropriate RSS publishers.
An RSS feed is composed of website content listed from
newest to oldest. Each item usually consists of a simple
title describing the item along with a more complete
description and a link to a web page with the actual
content being described. In some instances, the short
description or title line is the all the updated
information that a user wants to read (for example, final
games scores in sports, weblogs post, or stock updates).
Therefore, it is not even necessary to have a web page
associated with the content or update items listed --
sometimes all the needed information that users need would
be in the titles and short summaries themselves.
The RSS content is located in a single file on a webpage in
a manner not very different from typical web pages. The
difference is that the information is written in the XML
computer code for use by an RSS aggregator and not by a web
user like a normal HTML page.
There are 2 main parts that are involved in RSS
syndication, namely: the source end and the client end.
The client end of RSS publishing makes up part of the
system that gathers and uses the RSS feed. For example,
Mozilla FireFox browser is typically at the client end of
the RSS transaction. A user's desktop RSS aggregator
program also belongs to the client end.
Once the URL of an RSS feed is known, a user can give that
address to an RSS aggregator program and have the
aggregator monitor the RSS feed for changes. Numerous RSS
aggregators are already preconfigured with a ready list of
RSS feed URLs for popular news or information websites that
a user can simply choose from.
There are many RSS aggregators that can be used by all
Internet users. Some can be accessed through the Internet,
some are already incorporated into email applications, and
others run as a standalone program inside the personal
RSS feeds have evolved into many uses. Some uses gaining
- For online store or retail establishments: Notification
of new product arrivals
- For organization or association newsletters: title
listings and notification of new issues, including email
- Weather Updates and other alerts of changing geographic
- Database management: Notification of new items added, or
new registered members to a club or interest group.
The uses of feeds will continue to grow, because RSS
aggregators make access to any information that individual
users like more convenient and fun.
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