Sunday, September 28, 2003

RSS = NQSSS, Part 1 

(Really Simple Syndication = Not Quite So Simple Syndication)

When "Simple" is a bit of a Misnomer

I spent much of my Sunday afternoon reading about (and tinkering with) RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication*-- or what I am currently referring to as NQSSS , or Not Quite So Simple Syndication.

For a self-proclaimed GeekyGurl, I am feeling really outta the techno-loop with regards to this topic right now. For example, I now have an RSS logo on this page, and I know that it is linked to an .rss file I created and placed on my web server, but I sorta feel like a modern artist who just sketched something even THEY don't recognize.

I think I learned just enough today to be dangerous.

As far as I can tell, RSS is a way for me to bring more visitors to my blog. (SELF syndication -- get it? Like a syndicated newspaper columnist, only on the web and unpaid.) One of the many sites I visited today said to envision it as a "distributable 'What's New' for my site." I am not entirely positive what that means yet.

An RSS file is a simple text document that contains placeholders for data. Like HTML, these placeholders have starting and ending "tags," as well as a standard syntax to follow. (If the word "syntax" throws you off, think of it as grammar rules for coding.)

So the first thing I did was create a text file containing the necessary coding, along with the titles and descriptions of my blog entries. Not being one to reinvent the wheel (or in this case the code), I copied (with permission, of course) the basic coding from Blog Bloke's site (see his blog for 9-20-03) and edited it to point to my blog entries. I then saved it as a plain text file with an .rss extension and uploaded it to my server.

Geek that I am, I even validated (made sure it was correct) the code and the validator gave me the thumbs up.

Since I know enough HTML to get by (heck, I used to teach it, so I should), the RSS codes were fairly easy to deal with. Since I know how to use FTP to upload a file to my server, I accomplished that very quickly as well. I even figured out how to add that little RSS link/button you see over there in the left column (it points to the .rss file on my server).

So that's as far as I got today. Now I have to figure out where to go from here. One article says that I have to go register my site with "news aggregators." Since I don't know exactly what that means, I guess I will learn soon.

If you want to learn about RSS syntax (and, honestly, who wouldn't?), this article by Jonathan Eisenzopf was the most helpful: Making Headlines with RSS.

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