What are feeds all about?

All this talk about feeds and RSS and what-not is confusing – what you talkin’ about Willis?

Check out this awesome video from Common Craft, explaining RSS in plain English!

Feeds, which are normally RSS, Atom or RDF documents, are machine-readable versions of online information that allow you to get the news, blogs, updates and other information you use online in a more “portable” format. This format is a dialect of XML, and allows computers to format and work with the information in ways other than just displaying them online.If you have a feed reader, then you can subscribe to feeds and get their contents displayed in that feed reader. The feeds will be automatically updated periodically, so you’ll always have the freshest content available, without having to go to each website individually. Some example feed readers are:

Online (web-based) Readers

  • MyYahoo! – your Yahoo! homepage supports feeds! (free)
  • Google Reader – very easy to use reader from Google (free)
  • Bloglines – powerful, full-featured online reader (free)
  • FeedLounge – premium online feed reader (paid)

Mac OS X Readers

  • Vienna – simple, slick interface (free)
  • NetNewsWire – powerful reader for Macs (paid)
  • Sage – a Firefox plugin for reading feeds in your browser (open source)

Windows Readers

  • FeedDemon – the pre-eminent reader for Windows (paid)
  • NewzCrawler – feeds and other news sources (paid)
  • Sage – a Firefox plugin for reading feeds in your browser (open source)

Linux Readers

  • Sage – a Firefox plugin for reading feeds in your browser (open source)
  • Liferea – powerful reader with a good interface (open source)
  • Straw – another option for you Linux folk (open source)
  • Eclipse RSS Reader – based on the popular Eclipse framework (open source)

For a frighteningly-detailed matrix comparing these and all sorts of other readers to each other, check out aggcompare.

Auto discovery.

Auto-what? Speak English man!

Feed auto-discovery is a process which allows web page authors to embed a link to the feed for their website within the code that makes up the page. That way, when a web browser displays the page, it can read that link, and offer you a chance to view the contents of the feed. FeedBlendr is able to read auto-discovery information, so you can normally just enter the URL to the actual website that you want to blend, and then FeedBlendr will automatically go and find the feed and update that field with the correct URL.In your browser, you should be notified when a feed is available via auto-discovery.

  • Firefox displays a feed icon in the far right of the Address Bar.
  • Internet Explorer 7 lights up the feed icon in the main toolbar.
  • Safari display a blue RSS icon in the far right of the Address Bar.