Thursday, September 30, 2004

What is RSS and ATOM?

RSS and ATOM are your friend. RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" (from what I hear) and I'm not sure what ATOM stands for, but they are essentially ways that a blog or website can announce to the world that they have added or changed something on their website. Now, there are many ways to do this. Websites can have a little "What's New" section or can send out emails to its fan base. This is nice. RSS and ATOM are one more way to let people know.

On the technical side of things, RSS and ATOM are Xml formats. Generally, an rss.xml or atom.xml file is updated on the server (see my ATOM file as an example), and programs that read these kind of files can check to see if they have been updated. This is where newsfeed readers come in really handy (I'll add an entry on those later), because you can have them check a site's RSS or ATOM file every once in a while to see if something is added to the site. That is why these formats are perfect for blogs. Let's say you want to keep track of 50 blogs. Do you want to go to these fifty blogs every day to see if they are updated? Probably not. But a newsreader of some sort can do that for you in just a few seconds. It is a huge timesaver.

So, if you've wondered what RSS and ATOM are, and how that relates to blogging, now you know.


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