Thursday, June 22, 2006

An Introduction to Site Syndication

Hi there, and welcome back to Knee of the Curve. It's been a long time since I've posted; hopefully I'll be able to keep my posting frequency up now that my thesis presentation is over with.

What I'm posting about today is the technology known as website syndication. Websites that are syndicated make their content available in a common format that doesn't make assumptions about what software is reading them. Thus, a syndicated website shares its content to be used by other sites, and by visitors without actually visiting the official webpage.

There are two popular ways to do this: via two different languages called RSS and Atom. Since the two are virtually identical to the end user, we'll just call them "feeds." For an end user, syndication works like this: you use a feed reader to "subscribe" to site feeds, and read their content as soon as they're updated.

So, first things first, you need to get a feed reader. For any operating system, Firefox and Thunderbird do the job nicely in their own ways. Thunderbird treats RSS feeds like emails, and Firefox treats them like bookmarks ("Live" bookmarks, to be precise). Mac users can try Safari out, but I prefer the exceptional NewsFire. Linux users, try Akregator (for KDE) or Liferea (for GNOME).

You've installed your feed reader, and subscribed to feeds, now what do you do? Well, just wait for the content to roll in. Soon, you'll be reading your frequently viewed websites' content without ever having to launch a browser window:

Post any questions in the comments, and happy feedreading!

1 comment:

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