RSS is a Web content syndication format. Its name is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication.

RSS is a dialect of XML. All RSS files must conform to the XML 2.0 specification, as published on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website.

RSS allows you to see when sites from all over the internet have added new content. You can get the latest headlines and articles (or even audio files, photographs or video) in one place, as soon as they are published, without having to remember to visit each site every day.

It takes the hassle out of staying up-to-date, by showing you the very latest information that you are interested in.

How can I use RSS?

In general, the first thing you need is something called a news aggregators (also known as news readers). This is a piece of software that checks RSS feeds and lets you read any new articles that have been added to them. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.

Browser-based news aggregators let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.

Once you have chosen a news aggregators, all you have to do is to decide what content you want to receive in your news reader, by finding and subscribing to the relevant RSS feeds. For example, if you would like the latest ITP.net Software News stories, simply visit the Software section and you will notice an orange RSS button on the top-right hand side.

If you click on the button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the RSS feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news aggregators. Most sites that offer RSS feeds use a similar orange RSS button, but some may just have a normal web link to the feed.

Some browsers, including Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for RSS feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to RSS feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.