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RSS, the acronym of really simple syndication (or in more popular words news feeds), is a standardized XML file in which websites insert structured information and is generally used to store news and updates. News feeds can be read by web-based or software-based news readers (also called aggregators).


  • See News Feed Aggregator for standalone tools. Nowadays, most people use either a web navigator (E.g. Firefox) or so-called webtops (web dashboards)
  • Most portals including online content creation services can include News feeds in various formats. In web 2.0 interfaces, you may have to use some kind of Widget that can configure with a few options, including a title, the RSS feed URL, number of items, details, etc.
  • All modern web browsers can read RSS feed. In addition, there exist extensions that add extra functionality.
  • There are libraries (e.g. PHP) for writing custom RSS server-side aggregators

RSS/Atom Variants

  1. RSS 0.90
    • RSS as invented by Netscape, RSS = RDF Site Summary
  2. RSS 0.91
    • Second version of Netscape, RSS = Rich Site Summary
    • simple syntax and not compatible with RDF
    • this format is still popular
  3. RSS 0.92
    • like RSS 0.91 but some improvements, like UTF-8 support
  4. RSS 1.0
    • based on RDF
    • not very popular, since the "web 2.0" crowd does not seem to understand or like concepts underlying the semantic web.
  5. RSS 2.0
    • follow-up of RSS 0.91 and 0.92
    • Not RDF compatible (simpler than RSS 1.0)
  6. Atom is another news feeds standard. The XML syntax differs from RSS 0.9x/2.0 but the principle is the same.

Life Feed example

This wiki has an extension that allows to include RSS feeds.

The following example feed is taken from example, i.e. contents from the feed URL =

Short version, 5 items max.:

Extension:RSS -- Error: "" is not in the list of allowed feeds. There are no allowed feed URLs in the list.

Long version, 3 items only:

Extension:RSS -- Error: "" is not in the list of allowed feeds. There are no allowed feed URLs in the list.

Code Examples

Examples taken from wikipedia

RSS 1.0

Based on RDF, not popular:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
  <channel rdf:about="<nowiki></nowiki>">
    <description> features a rich mix of information and services 
      for the XML community.
    <image rdf:resource="<nowiki></nowiki>" />
        <rdf:li resource="<nowiki></nowiki>" />
        <rdf:li resource="<nowiki></nowiki>" />
    <textinput rdf:resource="<nowiki></nowiki>" />
  <image rdf:about="<nowiki></nowiki>">
  <item rdf:about="<nowiki></nowiki>">
    <title>Processing Inclusions with XSLT</title>
     Processing document inclusions with general XML tools can be 
     problematic. This article proposes a way of preserving inclusion 
     information through SAX-based processing.
  <item rdf:about="<nowiki></nowiki>">
    <title>Putting RDF to Work</title>
     Tool and API support for the Resource Description Framework 
     is slowly coming of age. Edd Dumbill takes a look at RDFDB, 
     one of the most exciting new RDF toolkits.
  <textinput rdf:about="<nowiki></nowiki>">
    <description>Search's XML collection</description>

RSS 2.0

RSS 2.0 is a slight revision of RSS 0.91

 <?xml version="1.0"?>
 <rss version="2.0">
     <title>Liftoff News</title>
     <description>Liftoff to Space Exploration.</description>
     <pubDate>Tue, 10 Jun 2003 04:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
     <lastBuildDate>Tue, 10 Jun 2003 09:41:01 GMT</lastBuildDate>
     <generator>Weblog Editor 2.0</generator>
       <title>Star City</title>
       <description>How do Americans get ready to work with Russians aboard the
         International Space Station? They take a crash course in culture, language
         and protocol at Russia's Star City.</description>
       <pubDate>Tue, 03 Jun 2003 09:39:21 GMT</pubDate>
       <title>Space Exploration</title>
       <description>Sky watchers in Europe, Asia, and parts of Alaska and Canada
         will experience a partial eclipse of the Sun on Saturday, May 31st.</description>
       <pubDate>Fri, 30 May 2003 11:06:42 GMT</pubDate>
       <title>The Engine That Does More</title>
       <description>Before man travels to Mars, NASA hopes to design new engines
         that will let us fly through the Solar System more quickly.  The proposed
         VASIMR engine would do that.</description>
       <pubDate>Tue, 27 May 2003 08:37:32 GMT</pubDate>
       <title>Astronauts' Dirty Laundry</title>
       <description>Compared to earlier spacecraft, the International Space
         Station has many luxuries, but laundry facilities are not one of them.
         Instead, astronauts have other options.</description>
       <pubDate>Tue, 20 May 2003 08:56:02 GMT</pubDate>

Atom 1.0

Example found in the specification:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<feed xmlns="">

 <title>Example Feed</title>
 <subtitle>Insert witty or insightful remark here</subtitle>
 <link href=""/>
   <name>John Doe</name>

   <title>Atom-Powered Robots Run Amok</title>
   <link href=""/>
   <summary>Some text.</summary>


News feed icons

For all news feed standards, there is a unique suggested icon (and that should replace the stupid "XML" icon):


Educational usage

  • Check the status of student's work in the different platforms like Wiki, Blog or Portal
  • Provide students with a feed that brings them latest news about a class (won't work with an LMS for security reasons).
  • Provide students with an aggregator that shows headlines from news on different web sites of interest
  • Include sideboxes in portals like C3MS or LMS like Moodle that display headlines from important websites. This is similar to the above, but the idea is to "open up" typical student's focus from task-related things in a learning environment to wards the rest of the world
  • Organization of collective / collaborative scenarios where each student has his "own" space, but information can be shared.




None of the three popular RSS 0.91, RSS 2.0 and Atom is defined with a formal language. However, XML grammars (DTDs, Relax or XML Schema) can be found.

  • rfc4287 Atom standard by the Internet Society, 2005. This specification defines an informative Relax NG schema (in Appendix B).


New feeds
Content aggregators