Guest Author - Lisa Shea
RSS feeds let you easily syndicate your content to an end user or another website. ASP can help you easily create your own RSS feed for your website. I know what I'm about to describe will sound complicated at first :). The best way to learn this system is simply to give it a try, and things will make sense when you see them in action.
First off, what IS an RSS feed? Think of it as a news alert. If you have an RSS reader, it actively polls a website to see if anything new is added. It typically runs as a taskbar icon on your desktop. Let's say you are polling this ASP site. Every time I add a new article, the RSS feed will update for my site. Your reader will see that new article and put a little alert on your desktop. You click on your reader, see a brief description of my article, and can read it if you want.
To get a reader, go to RSSReader.com. It's free and easy. Now you can test how RSS works.
So now that you have a reader, you need to point the reader at an RSS feed, so it gets the updates of what is going on at the site. In essence, you point the reader at a XXXXXXX.RSS file. The format of the RSS feed is XML. XML is a tag language, just like HTML. Instead of having commands like HTML and BODY, in the RSS file you end up with tags such as COPYRIGHT and PUBDATE. The tags in the RSS file help the RSS reader describe each "news flash" it is displaying.
Go into your RSS reader and create a new feed, using this RSS feed source:
That is the feed for this ASP site. See how your RSS reader now shows the latest 3 articles from this site? Whenever I add a new article to this ASP site, the reader will alert you and let you see what it's about. This is a GREAT way to stay in touch with your website visitors and to let them know what is fresh and new.
So now that you understand what RSS is all about, and how it works, it's time to look into how to code a RSS file for your own website, to alert your visitors to changes you've made.