Table of Contents
Syndication feeds (RSS, Atom...)
What's that ?
In addition to displaying pages presenting your blogs, GandiBlog gives you the possibility to offer your blog's content to your reader as a “feed” which can be used as an autonomous tool or as a specific extension for browsers. These tools will regularly pick up the feed, like you would pick up mail, and inform the user of any updates.
The multiplicity of terms used to refer to feeds (Atom, RSS, aggregation, syndication, XML, subscription…), their technical characteristics and ways of being read don't make them the easiest thing to understand, but essentially this is it: a feed is used to keep informed about updates without having to access the website directly.
The major asset is to be able to keep up with the updates of several blogs or sites within one space.
How to make them available?
They're all set up for you, you don't need to do anything except going to your administration interface for widgets and drag the Syndication widget to the Sidebar of your choice (by default, it is in the extra sidebar). A section of the blog menu will then be displayed, showing the feed URL (address) for entries and comments.
How to subscribe ?
It can be interesting for you to subcribe to your own comment feed, which is an excellent alternative to e-mail notifications, especially if you are also interested in subscribing to other blogs and sites as well. There are four kinds of tools to read these feeds: dedicated applications, online services, extensions for browsers and a dedicated function on e-mail softwares.
Like for other tools, there exists a wide variety, each with its fans and critics! Therefore, please note that the ones mentioned here are only some examples, but a classical web search will lead you to many others.
The ones chosen here have been chosen because they are free, and because of their simplicity:
Having installed the application on your computer, a menu or button allowing you to add a feed, generally via a dialog box, will enable you to add the feed's URL.
Other settings will let you modify the frequency of checks (usually there is a default one, which varies depending on the tool), the number of messages per feed you wish to keep you wish to keep, their layout, etc.
Pros and cons
- often have more subtle settings than other methods
- content is saved, you can read it even if you're online once it has been picked up
- most of them can organize feeds into folders and sub-folders, very useful if you subscribe to a lot.
- Unless you install the program on a USB key, you will only be able to check your feeds from the computer on which it was installed. Please note, however, that some applications work with an online service, thus letting you read the feeds at home with the application, and
at workat your friend's house from a web page, with automatic synchronization : what has already been read once at home will be marked as “read” anywhere else.
You are given a customized web page in which you will configure the feeds to which you want to subscribe. Most big names on the Web now offer such a service: Google, with Google Reader, Yahoo with MyYahoo, and dedicated service providers such as Netvibes.
Any one of these providers offer help pages for you to set up the service.
Pros and cons
- Requires no setup whatsoever
- You can check your subscriptions from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- You depend on the provider's functioning
- You can't read the feeds while offline
Directly integrated into your browser, either by default (Safari) or thanks to a small extension (Sage for Firefox, for instance), you can add the feeds to which you want to subscribe as you browse. A menu or panel in your browser then displays the list of subscriptions and notifies you of updates.
Pros and cons
- Feed is centralized within the browser
- your subscriptions are not available from another browser (nor from another computer for that matter).
The presentation and mode of functioning can be compared to a newsletter subscription, the only major difference being that you are being contacted by the website in the case of a newsletter, whereas it's the program that is fetching the updates in this case (in technological jargon, we'd speak of pull or push).
The possibility of subscribing to feeds through a mail client is built-in to Thunderbird (all platforms), and needs to be installed for Outlook. Intravniews (Windows), for example.
Pros and cons
- you're using the same tool to check your mail and feeds
- doesn't require any learning from you, you just paste a URL into a text field ;)
- messages are kept and can be checked when offline
- can only be checked from the computer on which the mail client is installed