RSS : Java Glossary

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technique of broadcasting a newsfeed from a website summarising changes. RDF (Resource Development Framework). Nature Magazine sends its daily updates that way. They provide headlines, summaries and links for all the new web content and their own and associated sites. The feed is in RDF/XML.

Introduction Advantages
RSS-2 Setting Up a RSS Feed
RDF Aggregators
Feedburner Books
Atom 3 Links
Viewing Feeds


You don’t need special server software to serve feeds. You create XML (extensible Markup Language) files and upload them. The only thing you have to your server in ensure it serves XML with the correct MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) type — application/xml. or text/xml You can check if your server is already configured by uploading an XML file and checking it with MimeCheck. The reader handles the cleverness of polling and downloading merging what it has with recent postings.

There are seven RDF variants, Atom and RSS. You probably want to use RSS version 2.0, or support multiple formats including Atom 3. Atom was designed after RSS and is considered cleaner.

Websites called aggregators spider the various feeds and keep a central database of them and redistribute the information in various ways.


The items are stored in reverse chronological order. Even if you stop posting old items, your viewers may optionally retain copies of them. Normally you would just post a week through a month’s worth of the most recent items, then discard them. People who want to keep old ones, can keep their own copies. You don’t need to serve an archive.

Most of the fields are pretty obvious. You can learn details about the many optional fields.

Unlike ordinary XML, there is no DTD (Document Type Definition).

The TTL (Time To Live) in minutes, how long a copy of your feed could be cached before it should be considered stale.

The image is logo for your feed, by default 88 × 30 pixels.

The optional GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) (not guide) is a string that uniquely identifies the item. When present, software reading your feed can use this unique string to determine if an item is new. In my HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) Static macros implementatin, I created it by computing a MD5 digest of the website, feed, link, title and publish date giving 16 bytes (256 bits) which I display display as a 32-digit hex number. You want a globally unique id, not just unique within the file, unique within the feed over time or unique over your site:

<!-- example of a hash-style guid -->
<guid isPermaLink="false">2000220155</guid>
then the id is just a meaningless hash.


then the link is also a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) to the item described by the feed. An undecorated URL not be unique if you generated a second RSS item to the same URL when the story changed.

The pubDate uses computer-unfriendly, English-only alphabetic month and day-of-week names of RFC 5322 It won’t accept UTC (Coordinated Universal Time/Temps Universel Coordonné) , only GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or UT. Java does not support UT. It supports only a subset of the Java TimeZone abbreviations, so it would be dangerous to use Locale default.


To get a browser to notice your feed, you need a special entry in the <head> section


You can see what a typical RDF feed looks like on this Nature



You can see what a typical FeedBurner feed looks like on this FeedBurner Blast the Right feed:

view Note how it permits you to format the text with HTML tags.

Atom 3

Atom was developed to address some of the problems with the rather Mickey Mouse RSS. The syntax of the feel is called APP (Atom Publishing Protocol). It is defined in RFC 319 and  RFC 5023. It is considerably more complicated and includes a server protocol for handling individual items. You can see what a typical Atom feed looks like:

The display is not quite right because the text is being displayed in ISO-8859-1, where the original is in UTF-8. Each item is sandwiched in entry tags. UTF-8 encoding allows special characters without entities. It supports both plain and HTML-formatted text. It allows you to ascribe an author to each entry. The scheme allows you to update entries. There is a mechanism to reply to individual entries, as you would in a blog.

Viewing Feeds

The feed is in XML. Here is how it will render in various browsers:
How Various Browsers Render RSS Feeds
Browser How Renders
Opera Special RSS-feed column format
Firefox CSS-style sheet HTML. Displays the feed logo.
SeaMonkey raw HTML tags, colourised
Mozilla CSS-style sheet HTML
Netscape CSS-style sheet HTML
IE (Internet Explorer) 7 A blank screen
IE 8 HTML layout


A person interested in your website can use a program called rss2email to subscribe to sites of interest. he program polls the feeds every so often and emails anything new. This way, the user does not have to check each site for new stuff; the new stuff is delivered right to the inbox. If the user is interested in a particular item, she can follow the link included in the feed.

Opera browser can manage your RSS feeds. Firefox supports RSS feeds calling them live bookmarks. Some sites refer to them as live feeds.

Because the date of each item is encoded in a standard way, it makes it possible to display just the new unviewed material no matter what the frequency of the automated visiting.

Setting Up a RSS Feed

If you wanted to set up an RSS feed on your website there are several ways to do it:


Aggregators are people who will help publicise your feed. They may also proxy it. That means they probe it periodically, then serve it to others. This takes a load off your server. They also convert it to other formats. They may also provide statistics about your feed’s usage. It may also provides tools for syndicating your content (such as embedding headlines into web pages). Aggregators may also convert ordinary blogs into feeds for you too.

Once your feed in operational, you might want to register it with the following aggregators.

Technorati logo Technorati
Google Blog Search logo Google Blog Search for both blogs and feeds. Google has sunset its Google Reader service.
FeedBurner logo Google FeedBurner


book cover recommend book⇒Developing Feeds with RSS and Atomto book home
by Ben Hammersley 978-0-596-00881-9 paperback
birth 1976-04-03 age:42 978-1-4493-6598-1 eBook
publisher O’Reilly recommended B00BCQ5Q5K kindle
published 2005-04-13
Covers RSS-2 and Atom to create website update feeds and website update consolidating feeds, especially for news websites.
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
Altova XMLSpy: XML editor RSS2 feed
DMOZ list of RSS newsreaders
firefox add-in RSS editor
Google RSS 2.0 specs: more stringent
myRSS: gatherer and printer
Opera: browser with RSS feed support
Real Gagnon on how to to roll your own RSS
Rome: RSS Java classes
RSS 2.0.10 spec
RSS Feeder .NET: opensource RSS: collect RSS and prepare for blogs
RSS intro
RSS tutorial
RSS workshop: examples
RSSInclude: widgets a free RSS reader
The replicator
W3C Site Summaries in XHTML uses hints in your HTML to generate a feed

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