The new information management tool, RSS or Very Simple Syndication or Rich Site Description, is gradually gaining popularity among web users and owners of websites. It is possible to get the latest posts from your favorite websites with RSS technology. But it’s not enough to click on an RSS or XML button on a homepage to give you the service you need. If not on the main page, an RSS feed or code shown on the pop-up screen consists of symbols and terms that will only make sense to experienced RSS users and enthusiasts of computer programmers and software. There is a need for another software tool called an RSS aggregator or reader.
An aggregator works by searching the world-wide-web with the latest posts supplied or added by the user based on the RSS code (containing the website URL). When a new article, news, or update is found, an RSS feed containing the title of the post will be published on your home page, which also acts as a clickable link to the source of the website.
Depending on what RSS aggregator you’re using, this RSS feed may or may not contain the entire post, a description, and images.
Aggregators come in two types: the software or desktop type that can be downloaded and the type that is online or web-based. Typically, for its services, the desktop aggregator charges a certain amount; this will involve daily updates in the form of enhancements or patches to the original edition. This type of RSS reader allows its online counterparts to more customize RSS feeds as well as page format or design. But the price will, of course, be a downside.
There is no fee for online or web-based aggregators. Everything you need to do is register with them for an account, so you can begin to enjoy their services. Customization is more constrained, depending on the “brand” of the aggregator. Some don’t even allow you to customize them at all.
The potential of RSS aggregators in internet marketing is being realized by product and service marketers. In reality, many send RSS codes to several common web-based aggregators to enter the rising technophile and internet-based market. My Yahoo has been influential in popularizing both consumers and website owners and marketers with RSS technology.
At present, there are many aggregators to choose from and their programmers are actively creating newer versions of the same aggregator.
Some of these desktop and web aggregators are given below:
- supports Linux, Mac, and Windows
- easy addition of RSS feeds
- not maximized use of screen display
- few options for customizing
- user friendly
- free trial version
- contains prepared popular feeds
- allows filtering of RSS feeds
- configurable “watch list” to manage junk RSS feeds
- search channel feature that incorporates other RSS services e.g. Feedster
- allows feed storage for future use
- tabbed browsers for channel navigation
- built-in podcast receiver
- supports only Internet Explorer (embedded)
- paid software (`$29.95)
all major browsers supported (e.g. Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, Firefox)
user-friendly especially for beginners
free, web-based aggregator
contains its own directory of RSS feeds of thousands of websites
personal email account for subscribing to newsletter emails (optional)
allows privacy adjustments for personal blogs
allows saved searches
mobile version available
10 languages supported
Additional add-on tools for automated blogrolls and subscription buttons
- free (consumer-standard version)
- provides personalized news channel
- allows translation of RSS articles into email format
- synchronization of feeds in several devices possible
- browse and search feed capabilities save time on surfing
- allows keyword filtering
- blog headlines
- button-click automatic subscription to news feeds
- Outlook-based thus limited to Windows
- My Yahoo
- Free web-based aggregator
- customizable home page design
- button-click subscription to RSS feeds
- built-in directory and search tool for feeds
- wide variety of feeds e.g. news (science, technology, local), weather
- connects to all Yahoo features and services
- banner advertisements
There are also lightweight RSS aggregator extensions which are actually plug-ins to existing internet browsers. An example of which is Sage aggregator.
- free of charge
- reeds both RSS and Atom feeds
- allows feed discovery
- can be assimilated to Firefox bookmark (storage and live)
- allows OPML feed lists imports and exports
- customizable style sheets
- supports a wide range of locales e.g. Catalan, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Polish, Slovenian, etc.
- easy installation
- good for about 12 RSS feeds
- limited use to Mozilla-Firefox and Mozilla-Firefox supported browsers
In future versions of their aggregators, RSS developers pledge improved functionality. In its next Windows update, Microsoft is preparing to have a built-in aggregator. These innovations are certainly something that all internet aficionados should look forward to.