RSS feeds are now ubiquitous everywhere on the web. Used to publish frequently changing information, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds typically include a headline, publication date, and a link to follow for more details. RSS feeds are commonly used to publish news headlines, for example, with a link to the full article.
Users may subscribe to a feed using a variety of tools - a dedicated feed reader such as NewsGator, a web service such as iGoogle, or an email client, including Microsoft Outlook. As new items are published in the feed, they appear in the user's reader, allowing the user to stay current with the latest news and information from many sources.
On a website, if an RSS feed is available, it's usually indicated with an icon like this: . The icon is usually a link to the feed, so clicking it will open the feed either in a web browser, in a dedicated feed reader program if one is installed, or in an email client.
For users, quickly scanning headlines from many sources then clicking to read more is an efficient way of staying current with topics in their field of interest, whether it's the latest legal judgments or simply the latest sports scores.
Generating an RSS Feed
RSS feeds are built in to the Andornot Discovery Interface. A typical feed is one of recently added items.
If you have an Inmagic database and WebPublisher PRO, you can use the Andornot RSS Feed Generator for WebPublisher Pro to create a feed directly from your database. For example, you might create a feed of:
- The latest additions to a legal memos database.
- The latest books in a library catalogue.
- The latest additions to your archives.
If you use the Inmagic Genie integrated library system, some great ideas for feeds include:
- A feed of the latest items added to the catalog.
- A feed of items on particular subjects or by favourite (or in-house) authors.
- A feed of the latest serials checked-in.
Once your feed is available, you can list the URL to it on your web page, as hyperlinked text or using the RSS icon. If the feed is publicly available (i.e. the content isn't just for use inside your organization), you can publish it via Google Feedburner, which provides statistics on approximately how many subscribers your feed has (always useful in justifying the time spent on it).
The Andornot RSS Feed Generator for WebPublisher PRO does more than simple feeds. Other key features include:
- Choose the fields to include in the feed from your database, and format them to best fit the feed.
- Include permalinks from the feed directly to the record in your web search results.
- Create as many different kinds of feeds as you like. Your imagination is the only limit!
- Feeds can be produced in either Atom 1.0 or RSS 2.0 format, or both.
Publishing an RSS Feed on a Web Page
An RSS feed can also be published as text on a web page. This is a great way of keeping content fresh on a home page, for example.
If your web site runs inside a Content Management System, including Microsoft SharePoint, it can be very easy to publish RSS feeds on a web page. It's usually just a matter of adding an RSS feed web part or "widget" to the page, entering the URL to the feed, and sometimes specifying how many items to publish at a time (4-6 is a good number).
If you don't have a content management system, you can still create a web page that publishes an RSS feed as text, using the Andornot RSS Viewer. This .NET application can be added to any website running on the IIS web server to grab content from a feed and include it in a web page.
The Andornot RSS Feed Viewer has all the features you need to take advantage of information flowing through RSS feeds:
- Choose which information from the feed to publish on a page, and format them with styles for the best presentation.
- Include links from entries back to the source.
- Fetch and publish as many different feeds as you like.
Use of a feed service like FeedBurner is recommended. A feed service can convert feed formats on the fly, optimize them and run stats on subscribers. An Atom feed can be converted to RSS through FeedBurner. You can also use services like Feed Digest to mix, blend and sort feed content.
Contact us for more information about RSS options for your website or intranet page.
Learn more about Andornot's work with RSS in these blog posts: