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Using RSS Feeds



Q: What is an RSS feed? How can I access it?



A: RSS is a specification for the distribution of news and other web content. The advantage of an RSS feed over channels such as email is that RSS allows the news to be accessed on demand, whereas email is a medium which is increasingly suffering from the effects of unsolicited and illegal commercial messages ("spam"). Whereas in the early days of the internet it used to be relatively effective to send news by email, spam is the major phenomenon which is now making this increasingly impractical.

You can think of RSS as "pull", and email as "push". With RSS you only get the news you want from the publishers you decided to "listen" to. And you can aggregate multiple RSS feeds, viewing them in a single list.

Cloanto has been at the forefront of the debate around spam since 1995 (e.g. see In 2001 it released Software Director (also known as Software Manager), which aims to do for software what RSS does for news, allowing users to check for software information and updates in a "pull" fashion, without sending back any information about themselves or about installed applications. Continuing this tradition, in 2003 Cloanto began adding RSS feeds to its sites.

RSS data, although being in XML format, is not meant to be accessed with a web browser. In order to access an RSS feed you need an RSS reader (RSS client software). RSS readers can conveniently check, aggregate and list news from different sources in a single step.

Reader applications include the following packages, most of which are free:

Most of these packages allow you to simply enter the address of a website (e.g., or, and they will automatically discover the feeds for that site (a site can have multiple feeds).

If you are new to RSS you may also want to check sites like:


Article Information
Article ID:13-192
Additional Keywords:None
Last Update:2004-01-07
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