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Syndication Explained

There are several technologies that allow the content of websites to be syndicated and subscribed to but all are based upon XML (extensible markup language). The most common of these is RSS which stands for “relatively simple syndication”. Two things are required to make this work . First, the website itself must be programmed to create and update the items it wishes to syndicate. This output is referred to as a “feed” or “news feed”. Second, the consumer, or end-user must have an application (program) that can parse (read) the feed output. These applications are called “aggregators”. There are several standalone aggregator programs out there but perhaps the easier approach is to use a web browser that has this capability built-in. Firefox and the latest version of Apple’s Safari web browser both have this capability.

Another syndication format is called Atom which is also an XML based syndication format.

People like using readers for websites because it allows them to catch up on all their favorites at once. Like checking email—without the SPAM. When a regularly updated site such as a blog has a feed, people can subscribe to it using software for reading syndicated content called a “newsreader” or aggregator as mentioned above.

If you use Firefox, look in the lower right-hand corner of the browser window. If you see the little orange radio symbol, that means that the site you are visiting has a feed available.

Click on the radio icon and a menu will appear showing the feeds that are available for the site. Select the one of your choice. If RSS2 is an option, we suggest you select it. Otherwise select one of the others. A dialogue box will appear asking where you want to save the link. If you add it to your bookmarks, every time you launch Firefox, it will automatically update the feed to the most recently available content. Simple as that!

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