What is a feed? | what is RSS feed?

news feed

rss feed


use of feed
rss feed reader

What is a FEED?

A feed or a web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by an aggregator. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed.

Technical definition

A web feed is a document (often XML-based) whose discrete content items include web links to the source of the content. News websites and blogs are common sources for web feeds, but feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data to top-ten lists of hit tunes to search results. The two main web feed formats are RSS and Atom.

Use of feed

A typical scenario of web feed use is: a content provider publishes a feed link on their site which end users can register with an aggregator program (also called a feed reader or a news reader) running on their own machines; doing this is usually as simple as dragging the link from the web browser to the aggregator. When instructed, the aggregator asks all the servers in its feed list if they have new content; if so, the aggregator either makes a note of the new content or downloads it. Aggregators can be scheduled to check for new content periodically. Web feeds are an example of pull technology, although they may appear to push content to the user.

Contents of a feed

The kinds of content delivered by a web feed are typically HTML (webpage content) or links to webpages and other kinds of digital media. Often when websites provide web feeds to notify users of content updates, they only include summaries in the web feed rather than the full content itself.

What is RSS?

RSS (most commonly expanded as Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.

An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically.

They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

RSS feeds can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader”, or “aggregator”, which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based.

A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI or by clicking a feed icon in a web browser that initiates the subscription process.

The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds. RSS allows users to avoid manually inspecting all of the websites they are interested in, and instead subscribe to websites such that all new content is pushed onto their browsers when it becomes available.

RSS formats are specified using XML, a generic specification for the creation of data formats. Although RSS formats have evolved from as early as March 1999, it was between 2005 and 2006 when RSS gained widespread use, and Firefox’s  icon was adopted by Internet Explorer.

Comparison of feed and RSS

The term RSS is often used to refer to web feeds or web syndication in general, although not all feed formats are RSS. The Blogspace description of using web feeds in an aggregator, for example, is headlined “RSS info” and “RSS readers” even though its first sentence makes clear the inclusion of the Atom format: “RSS and Atom files provide news updates from a website in a simple form for your computer.”

Reference :  Wikipedia