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What is an RSS feed?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  An RSS feed is an XML file that can be used to distribute (or syndicate) content such as news items or new blog postings to people who subscribe to the feed.

Where can I find RSS feeds?

You can find links to RSS feeds on many sites and will usually see the RSS icon:

Clicking on this will get the address of the feed.  The BBC has RSS feeds for each section of news.

Alternatively, you can find RSS feeds by searching a feed directory, such as:

What can RSS feeds be used for?

Rss feeds are useful on websites where the content is regularly updated, for example a news forum such as the BBC.  You can use something called an aggregator to subscribe to feeds.  That way, rather than going to each individual website, you can see a list of all the news items and choose which one you read.

How do I subscribe to RSS feeds?

You can used software called an 'aggregator' to subscrive to feeds and receive the most up to date items.  To subscribe, you just need to copy the address of the feed into the aggregator.  We recommend the following free aggregators:

Web-based aggregators:

Very useful if you want to access your feeds from anywhere or for use on WTS.

Desktop aggregators:

These must be downloaded and installed on your computer:

Can I add an RSS feed to a webpage?

Yes, you can embed an RSS feed into any HTML page.

To do this:

  1. First of all you need to get the address of your feed: e.g. For the BBC Education News Feed: http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_uk_edition/education/rss.xml
  2. Go to a site that converts RSS to Javascript, we recommend: http://feed2js.org/
  3. Click the [Build] button and select the desired options - we suggest the following:
  4. Click the [Generate Javascript] button and copy the code produced.
  5. Open your website in an HTML editor.
  6. Paste the code into the html of the webpage.
URL Paste the URL of the RSS feed into the box provided.
Show channel? Select Yes - this will display information about publisher of the feed.
Number of items to display. Enter the number of news items you want listed.
Show/Hide item descriptions? Enter 200>1 - this will display the first 200 characters of the description.
Use HTML in item display? If you wish to see the images within the news, select Yes.
Show posting date? Select Yes - this will show the date of each news item.
Target links in new window? Select Yes - this will open the news item in a new window.
Select UTF-8 character encoding Selecting this option will ensure non-Roman characters should be displayed.

NOTE: Do check the site's terms and conditions for displaying an RSS feed within WebCT or on your own website. You will usually need to credit the content provider, however be aware that you may not have permission to display the company's logo. An example is the BBC's use policy.

How do I create my own RSS feeds?

The easiest way is to use an RSS Generator which will automatically create the RSS feed for you. We recommend the following software:

The alternative is to write the RSS feed yourself. RSS uses XML which is a mark-up language similar to HTML. We recommend the W3Schools tutorial on how RSS syntax: www.w3schools.com/rss/rss_syntax.asp

If you are using a Blog, you can usually generate an RSS feed automatically. Please see your Blog provider's help pages for more information. 

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