What is RSS?
The term "RSS" stands for "Really Simple Syndication" or sometimes "Rich Site Summary". The term "syndication" in the field of newspaper publishing refers to the practice of one newspaper using articles and stories from other newspapers to create new content. In the online world, RSS provides a way to extract automatically the latest content from websites. A website, such as National Services Scotland, can share its headlines and stories with the online community by providing "news feeds".
What are News Feeds?
News feeds allow you to see when the website has added new content. You can get the latest headlines in one place, as soon as they are published, without having to visit the website you have taken the feed from.
How can I use feeds?
In general, you need something called a "news reader". This is a piece of software that checks the feeds and lets you read any new articles that have been added. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a web browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.
Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.
Once you have chosen a news reader, all you have to do is to decide what content you want it to receive. For example, if you would like the latest NSS News, simply look for the NSS News Feed link next to the orange RSS logo (shown here).
If you click on the RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.
Some browsers, including Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.
How do I get a news reader?
There is a range of different news readers available and new versions are appearing all the time.
Different news readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work with your computer.
Example News Readers
Windows (download required)
Mac OS X (download required)