Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Syndicating feeds

With the era of blogging new standards emerged to syndicate data. The most used protocols are RSS and Atom. This article is an introduction for new users who want to start with syndication. I hope with this article that you want to syndication your self and see what you can get out of this.
 
An introduction about feeds - for dummies
A feed is in simple words a list of publications with links written in an open format that other users (and programs) can read from to get the lastest additions on the site. A feed usually contains the 10-20 last publications added to a site.
 
Beacuse this is an open format, anyone can read the feed files and present you with the information you want.
 
In the old days you probably read 20 newspapers on the net to see if anything new catched your breath. With feeds and syndication you can see all headlines from one place and just read the articles you find interesting. Now you can follow 40-50 newspapers a day :)
 
Many sites - not only blogs and newspapers provide feeds for their services. Also new publishing tools are starting to include support for this. Microsoft Office System 2007 (Sharepoint) is one big solution with all you need to publish data!
Did you know that Google use blogs as their primary communications channel towards their customers in addition to press releases? Google got lots of official blogs, probably covering each product and service from them. You can find them all by searching for the Google product you want on Google blogsearch.
Syndication - in short words
When you collect all those 40 newspaper feed into one place you syndicate the feeds. You collect them to a central place where you can read it in a way you find convenient.
 
Many products and services are built with the basis of these protocols. Some services are listed below.
 
This is Google search pages for blogs. This index is updated within minutes of an article beeing posted. It can take weeks for Google to index blogs in their normal search engine.
 
Google blogsearch also provides an RSS/Atom feed for searches, so you can receive all updates with given search words. This is cool - it gives you the ability to see what other bloggers write on the net.
 
FeedBurner is a cool utility that burn feeds - whatever that is :) FeedBurner got lots of enhancements for your feeds. The most important ones (from my point of view) are rewriting of feeds for compability with all software on the marked and making search engines index your page quickly. Other enhancements are statistics and email subscriptions. This page is for the creative minds who write their own blogs.
 
This webpage is a portal for blogs. A place where you can syndicate your feeds and search for topics. The site gives you lots of information regarding search words and let you search on tags, content or authors. If you write blogs and claim them you also get more statistics about your blogs.
 
Internet browsers
Internet Explorer 7 from Microsoft and Opera can read feeds out of the box. If you read feeds occasionally this may be all you need. The author used Opera for years before moving on to Omea Reader.
 
This is the authors personal favorite. This tool is a news reader, email client and RSS reader. With this I got everything I need into one tool. After I started out with this tool my surfing time went down by 60%.

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