Syndicating the Web with RSS News Feeds

If you've never heard of the term RSS, don't worry because it's not as complicated as many of the acronyms you've already faced throughout this tutorial. In fact, once you get past the messy history of RSS, you'll find that it is a fairly simple technology both to understand and to use. I won't bother telling you what the RSS acronym stands for just yet because it has a different meaning depending on which version of RSS you use.

However, I will tell you that RSS has made a significant impact on the Web and how people use it. Increasing numbers of Web users are relying solely on syndicated RSS "news feeds" to find out when there is something of interest worth seeing on a web site, as opposed to actually visiting that site. A story in an RSS feed links directly to the relevant content, allowing you to bypass the main page of the site containing the content.

RSS fits into this tutorial because it is an XML-based technology, which simply means that the language used to code news feeds is an XML markup language. There are a variety of different ways that you can use RSS. You can display RSS feeds from other web sites on your web site, you can build your own library of RSS feeds and view them regularly using special software called a news aggregator, or you can syndicate your own site using RSS so that other people can view your feeds. This tutorial touches on all of these uses of RSS.

In this tutorial, you'll learn

  • The historical drama of how RSS came to be
  • How to use a news aggregator to syndicate RSS news feeds
  • How to create and validate your own RSS documents
  • How to transform and display RSS news feeds using XSLT