Ever have an itchy trigger finger, checking the Tuesdays with Deborah website only to find out there are no updates? Wouldn’t it be great if there would be some way to passively watch the site and see if it’s been updated? Well, there is! It is known as an RSS feed.
RSS, originally known as RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication will do such a thing. RSS, feeds or news feeds have an URL, formatted similar to the URL for a website. There is some work required by the server side in order to support RSS. When trying to access an RSS feed, if the website does not support the RSS protocol, you most likely will get back a server not found error. But, if the website supports the RSS protocol, new doors will be open.
RSS “webpages” are based on a slightly different protocol than the familiar HTTP. Because of the difference in protocol, the newsreader, the program used to access feeds, gets an update when the webpage changes; no need to constantly check the website to see if it’s been updated. It can kind of be thought as a magazine subscription that only notifies you when new articles are available, but not when ads or the masthead changes.
Since I can’t know every newsreader program out there, let me try to direct you the best I can. If you are using a newsreader application, the most important feature is adding a feed. If you see a plus button in the main window, that is likely the place to add a new feed. Secondly, check the menus for an item labeled new feed, add new feed or add feed. With that, that is enough to get started on the client side.
So why is at all important to Tuesdays with Deborah? Good question, to which there is a good answer. Say you want to track when new articles become available on Tuesday with Deborah? There’s a feed for that, Like a particular author? There is a feed for every author in the blog. The RSS feed will be updated when they have added a blog post. Want to track when new discussion happens on your recent blog post? There’s a feed for that, also.
The feeds exists? How can you use them? That depends on the program. If they support drag and drop, the URL can be picked up from the browser and dropped on the program you are using for your newsreader. For instance, dragging the URL to Mac Mail and dropping it on the RSS Feed area in the sidebar, with add the feed. With Outlook, drag the URL to RSS Feed icon, which looks like this:
`There is only one minor edit that needs to happen. Right now the URL is a web URL; many newsreaders do not know how to handle that. For a WordPress feed URL to be recognized by a newsreader, a feed/ must be added to the end of the url. For example, the web address for Tuesdays with Deborah is http://www.authenticwritingprovokes.com/inspiredwriting/, and the feed address is http://www.authenticwritingprovokes.com/inspiredwriting/feed/. Notice the feed tacked on the end? That’s all that has to happen.
There are also feeds for authors, blogs, and for extra credit, categories and tags. Here are the feed addresses for each of those.
So, now with this new found power, you can set up RSS feeds to follow Tuesdays with Deborah, authors on the site, and comments for a particular blog entry.
BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!! I am also exploring adding some code to the site so that adding a feed for any of these will be just a click away. Stay Tuned.