Introduction to RSS(Rich Summary Site)

Recently, there has been an unprecedented caution regarding data privacy. With infamous leaks and instances of phishing and spamming all around, no one wants to put their personal information out there without restraint, in fear of being the next unfortunate target. This makes staying posted with favored content on the massive expanse of the World Wide Web a daunting task. There appears to be a trade-off between user control and unobstructed access. To gain access to a preferred blog, which regularly posts about top travel destinations or let’s say the latest technical trends, one is often asked to offer up personal information on a plate in exchange for a rudimentary subscription service. One alternative to staying updated with rich content is via social media, but then again that too does not advocate privacy. It seems like its time to grab onto the steering wheels.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Syndication is a process that makes content on one website available to another website. It enables websites to share newly added content, major headlines and even summaries. The sharing of content usually takes place between a particular website and the website of an aggregator. This communication occurs in the form of basic XML that is both human and machine-readable. To set up RSS for a website an XML file has to be created known as the RSS document or RSS Feed. Below is a sample RSS document.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<rss version="2.0">
  <title>RSS title</title>
  <link> https://mywebsitename/index.html </link>
  <description>My Blog</description>
    <title>My First Feed</title>
    <description>My new article</description>
    <title>My Second Feed</title>
    <description>Another new article</description>

Explanation of the code :

  1. First comes the XML tag, its version and encoding scheme.
  2. The following line marks the beginning of the RSS tag with its version in use. .
  3. The next few lines show the channel tag, which marks the beginning of the RSS Feed. It holds the title of the channel, a hyperlink to it and a description of the channel. .
  4. Within the channel tag are defined one or more items which is essentially the content or story, each with its own title, link and description. The channel can hold data in any form – images, gifs, audio etc. Each has its own unique XML tag.

Once the XML is ready and validated, it is uploaded to the server. This allows a registered aggregator to access the RSS document.The XML has to be constantly updated with new content. This task is performed and managed by the website developers and owners. There also exist third party automated RSS providers such as Bloggers and WordPress offering in-built automated RSS services. On the aggregator side, the newly updated RSS document is intercepted by a ‘RSS Reader’. The RSS reader regularly checks the registered RSS Feeds for freshly brewed content. This reader is presented as a user interface and can be built into a website, or installed on a device to be made available to clients. There are several widely available RSS Feed Readers such as QuiteRSS and FeedReader. The client can easily specify the Feed URLs the reader must look into. When needed, the client can as easily opt out from this content delivery.

Benefits of RSS:

  • RSS forms a tunneled subscription service, handled solely by the client.
  • It exterminates the need to disclose personal information to multiple websites but delivers controlled, automated and regular content, without any additional baggage.
  • Can be used to increase traffic on a website.

RSS is not a buzz word like blockchain, simply because its been around since the early 2000s. However, its usage has changed over the years and its underrated value can now come into the play to establish a handle on our lost power over the web.