Question: What is RSS and What Are The Best Programs To Use RSS on Various Platforms? ~ Ask The Admin

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Question: What is RSS and What Are The Best Programs To Use RSS on Various Platforms?

What do you use for Rss feeds? Do you know what Rss feeds are? You dont? Well here is a quick rundown. Let us know what you use and we will update this as it comes in. From Wikpedia followed by quick reviews:

RSS (which, in its latest format, stands for "Really Simple Syndication")
is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a "feed," "web feed," or "channel," contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that's easier than checking them manually. RSS content can be read using software called a "feed reader"
or an "aggregator." The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds. The initials "RSS" are used to refer to the following formats:

Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0)
RDF Site
Summary (RSS 1.0 and RSS 0.90)
Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.91)

Here is some great info from:

After reviewing FeedBurner stats the author has broken the reviews into categories of readers.

Web reader
The first category of RSS readers and clearly the most popular and competitive is the Web-based RSS reader. This is a reader that allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds, which you can organize and read in various ways. I did not include Websites that simply allow you to add RSS feeds to your homepage, but rather put them in a separate category titled Webpage.

Other readers in the Web-based RSS reader category include Rojo and Pluck. Both Rojo and Pluck continue to report high readers counts, but it appears that the majority of their users have abandoned their accounts.

Google Reader
By far the most popular RSS reader is Google Reader. It implements the classic River of News interface and is great for reading massive amount of feeds. It requires a basic understanding of RSS so its not great for non-technical Internet users. It implements most all of the basic functionality that you would expect in an RSS reader; OPML import, export, river of news, feed views, read/unread flags.
A very interesting feature is to share your entries as a link blog. Robert Scoble does this.

Blogslines is one of the first Web-based RSS readers that has enjoyed a very long period of success. For a long-time it was the most popular reader, but has recently been overtaken by Google Reader. Bloglines was sold to and has stagnated since the takeover, losing its #1 ranking to Google.

NewsGator is really a suite of RSS readers, in fact, I'll mention two others later in this article. The suite includes NewsGator Online, NewsGator for Outlook, FeedDemon, NetNewswire and more. Each component of the suite allows for reading on a different platform. NewsGator Online is a web-based reader, NewsGator for Outlook is an Outlook integrated RSS reader, FeedDemon is a Windows native client and NetNewsWire is an Apple native client. Because they are a tightly integrated suite, you can easily swap subscription lists between the various readers and move from machine to machine, or environment to environment while maintain your reading state.

The second category of readers is webpage-based RSS readers. These are website that allow you to add RSS feeds and other widgets to a webpage. These RSS readers tend to report very high reader counts compared to their actual usage.
Other readers in the webpage-based RSS reader category include and Google homepage.

NetVibes how grown in popularity of the last year. It allows you to aggregator RSS feeds and many other types of widgets on a private webpage. You can also add maps, weather, notes, todo lists, images, search and video.

MyYahoo! is very similar to NetVibes, but it has been around for a very long-time and hasn't really improved much over the last couple of years. Like NetVibes, it also allows you to add various types of widgets. MyYahoo! was very popular a year ago, but has stagnating since and most of their users have abandoned the platform.

Other readers in the email-based RSS reader category include NewsGator for Outlook, Outlook, Yahoo! Mail. NewsGator for Outlook is likely not going to survive much longer as Microsoft has integrating RSS reading into Outlook. Both Outlook and Yahoo! mail have RSS reading capabilities, but don't appear to be used by many people.

Rmail is a website that I wrote that allows a user to subscribe to any RSS feed via email. It integrates with pretty much any email client and is used by 50,000 users.

FeedBurner is not really an RSS reader, but rather a feature for RSS publishers that use FeedBurner. If you burn your feed using FeedBurner, then you can also include an email subscription widget on your webpage that allows your readers to receive emails when your RSS feed is updated. FeedBurner does not allow you to subscribe to non-FeedBurner feeds and neither does it provide advance subscription management features. It does provide great publishers services, by far the most advanced in the industry.

There are other publisher services similar to FeedBurner, like Bloglet and FeedBlitz, but they offer only a small subset of the features and are not reliable.

Thunderbird is an email client written by Mozilla, the same people that own Firefox. It was the first email client with RSS features and remains somewhat popular. It's the only email client with integrated RSS reading that is in common use.

The most advanced RSS readers tend to be native clients and there are hundreds on the market. Other RSS readers not discussed in this category includes RSSOwl, Blogbridge, RSSReader, FeedReader, RSS Bandit and Sharpreader. This list is far from exhaustive.

GreatNews, a native Windows client, is the hidden gem of RSS readers. You rarely here about it, but there are countless users. It is very popular in the Chinese community. One of the best features is the integration with Bloglines. If you already use Bloglines, then GreatNews will synchronize your reading list with your Bloglines account.

Snarfer is another great native Windows RSS reader that is very popular and rarely publicized. There are versions in English, Arabic, German, Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese, Finnish and Turkish. Like GreatNews, Snarfer also integrates with Bloglines.

FeedDemon is likely one of the most advanced native Windows RSS reader. It's part of the NewsGator family of RSS readers and will synchronize with all the NewsGator products. Unlike most other RSS readers, FeedDemon is not free. You can download a trial, but it cost $30.

Like FeedDemon, NetNewsWire is also part of the NewsGator family of RSS readers. NetNewswire is the best and most popular native Mac RSS client. NetNewsWire, like FeedDemon, is not free and cost $30.

All modern RSS browsers now have limited RSS integration. These include





Firefox has long included the ability to bookmark a feed. It's the most basic form of RSS aggregation, but it's been around for a long-time and is still used by quite a few users.

Sage is a plug-in for Firefox that provides most advanced RSS reading capabilities than the basic Firefox RSS bookmarking.

Internet Explorer 7.0, like Firefox, includes very basic RSS aggregation. This browser is gaining market-share very quickly, but the RSS integration lacks most of the features available in other RSS readers.

The Opera browser includes an email client that has more advanced RSS reading capabilities than both Firefox and IE7, but is not in wide usage.

Let us know what you use in the comments!