What is RSS and XML?

RSS and XML feeds allow you to read live news on a web page or on your desktop with a newsreader or 'news aggregator'.  Web sites usually display an icon like this:  to let you know a newsfeed is available.  You can also add newsfeeds to personal pages like 'my yahoo', an icon like this: allows you to easily add the feed to your 'my yahoo' page.  Other sites like
My Google and del.icio.us also offer this service.

If you have the Internet Explorer 7 browser, you should notice an orange RSS icon in the toolbar.

This icon will be highlighted if the current website offers an RSS/XML feed, or list of feeds.  Clicking the icon will take you directly to the newsfeed.

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Technical Details

RSS (formally "RDF Site Summary", known colloquially as "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.

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The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a general-purpose markup language.[1] It is classified as an extensible language because it allows its users to define their own elements. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of structured data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet.[2] It is used both to encode documents and serialize data. In the latter context, it is comparable with other text-based serialization languages such as JSON and YAML.

It started as a simplified subset of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), and is designed to be relatively human-legible. By adding semantic constraints, application languages can be implemented in XML. These include XHTML,[4] RSS, MathML, GraphML, Scalable Vector Graphics, MusicXML, and thousands of others. Moreover, XML is sometimes used as the specification language for such application languages. XML is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium. It is a fee-free open standard. The W3C recommendation specifies both the lexical grammar, and the requirements for parsing.

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