RSS is a bit of the web’s plumbing that often is reported as dead or dying. It won’t go anywhere soon though because it’s just too useful.
In short, RSS (usually read to stand for ‘really simple syndication’ although holy wars have been fought over this) provides a way of delivering the latest content from a website to other services and apps that republish them.
The classic example is of a news reader, or RSS aggregator as they are sometimes known, which enables the user to subscribe to lots of RSS feeds from different sites so that the latest news from each site is displayed in one place – saving lots of time and bother.
If you’d like to get started with RSS subscriptions in a reader, a good, free place to start is Feedly.
WordPress, being the lovely, helpful, open platform that it is, produces an RSS feed for your site. In most cases (although not all, depending on configuration*) you’ll find the feed for a WordPress site at /feed/ – so if you are looking for the dxw feed, it’s at http://dxw.com/feed/
However, that’s not all! WordPress also produces all sorts of other RSS feeds for other dynamic lists of content on your site. Take categories for example. If you want to find all the articles on the dxw blog about WordPress, then you visit the category page for WordPress, which is https://www.dxw.com/category/wordpress/ straightforwardly enough.
But if you wanted to snag an RSS feed just for the WordPress category content, you could do that too, using https://www.dxw.com/category/wordpress/feed/ – simple. All you do is choose the listing of content that you want a feed for, and add /feed/ to the end of it.
Here’s another example. Instead of by category, how about if we wanted to find all the content by a certain author. The URL for that listing would be https://www.dxw.com/author/harry-metcalfe/ if you wanted all of Harry’s posts here at dxw. Guess what though – if you whack /feed/ at the end of that, you get an RSS feed of just Harry’s content.
Believe it or not, some content management systems still don’t support this kind of across-the-board RSS feed functionality, which is a nice tick in the box for WordPress.
It’s not just about getting a specific feed of content into your feed reader though. Syndicating content from a site based on topic or author makes it possible for that content to be available to users on a range of sites or apps, targeted in to what people actually might want to read.
Are you using WordPress’ RSS features to the full? Let us know how in the comments!
* most often this is because you haven’t sent your permalink structure up. Go to Options/Permalinks and pick a pretty URL scheme, and that will enable /feed/ – although if you’re a dxw client this will have been done for you already, so feel free to leave these settings alone 🙂
It can be achieved without pretty permalinks, but the URLs really are pretty ugly.