The Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a lightweight XML format, designed for sharing headlines and some other Web content. The Really Simple Syndication has evolved into popular means of sharing content between sites (including the BBC, CNET, CNN, Disney, Forbes, Motley Fool, Wired, Red Herring, Salon, Slashdot, ZDNet and more). The Really Simple Syndication solves a myriad of problems webmasters commonly face, such as increasing traffic, and gathering and distributing news. The RSS can also be a basis for additional content distribution services.
The Really Simple Syndication was first invented by Netscape, when they were trying to get into the portal business. They wanted an XML format (RSS .90) that would be easy for them to get news stories and information from other sites and have them automatically added to their site. They then came out with the RSS .91 and left it, when they decided to get out of the portal business. UserLand Software picked up the RSS .91 and continued to develop it, coming out with .92, .93 and .94. At the same time, as UserLand, a non-commercial group, picked up the RSS and developed the RSS 1.0, based on their interpretation of the original principles of RSS. They based the RSS 1.0 on RDF and re-named it an RDF Site Summary. UserLand was not happy with the RSS 1.0 and continued the development of their version of the Really Simple Syndication, eventually releasing the RSS 2.0.
There is a discussion as to what the RSS stands for, but most people plump for 'Really Simple Syndication'. The RSS feeds are only a special kind of a web page, designed to be read by computers rather than people. It might help think of them as a free, internet version of old-fashioned ticker-tape news wire machines. Not all websites currently provide the Really Simple Syndication, but it is growing rapidly in popularity and many websites have the RSS feed for both text and video stories.
The Really Simple Syndication provides a convenient way to syndicate information from a variety of sources, including news stories, updates to a web site or important bulletins. Regardless of the purpose for which the Really Simple Syndication file is being used by watching this XML file, it can be quickly and easily seen whenever an update has occurred. Certainly, viewing the RSS feed in the Internet Explorer and manually reloading the page every few minutes is not the most efficient use of the time; thus, most people take advantage of some form of client software to read and monitor RSS feeds.
There are many different RSS clients available, but here are a few selected ones that have been tested: RssReader, SharpReader, FeedReader, AmphetaDesk, NewsGator, and RSS Bandit, which is now an Open Source project. The Really Simple Syndication, a really containing mini database of headlines and descriptions of what new on a site is, and also is natural for layering on additional services.
In addition to displaying the news on other sites and headline viewers, the RSS data can flow into other products and services like PDA's, cell phones, email ticklers and even voice updates. Email newsletters can easily be automated with the RSS. Even more compelling, affiliate networks and partners of like-minded sites (say a collection of Linux sites) can harvest each other's RSS feeds and automatically display new stories from the other sites in the network, driving more traffic throughout.