Today I added the “BlueCoat aggregated RSS” feed as one of the site’s widgets, along with the SonicWALL aggregated feed. RSS [Really Simple Syndication] feeds are an incredibly efficient way of receiving news headlines.
An RSS file is simply an XML file usually dynamically generated by the news site which is sent to special programs called “RSS readers”. These readers parse this XML file and display usually just the headlines of the news site articles. This minimalist approach of just displaying headlines can help you quickly scan the days’ headlines from a wide variety of sites and quickly determine articles of interest. Rather than having to visit each and every site individually and scan over their content, the RSS reader usually presents you with a unified interface where you can pull news quickly.
There are a whole slew of RSS readers out there, my favourite is iGoogle, since its online and I can use it as my browser landing page.
However, when you reach a certain stage, you may have quite a large amount of RSS feeds (i have over 30 for example) and you may want to aggregate or join different RSS feeds into a single consolidated stream. Like the ones I have on right. Rather than having 2 or 3 RSS feeds for SonicWALL, and another 3 for BlueCoat, I have one each, saving in screen space
These “aggregate” RSS feeds pull from a variety of sources (for example, in my case, the knowledgebase, marketing, and security centres of each company) and display them as a single feed. There are several online services that perform this function. The two I though I would highlight are:
Each has their pros and cons. Yahoo pipes for example, is more complex but has more capabilities in the form of filtering, data processing… more techie appealing. I’ve seen examples of using Yahoo Pipes to pull data from sites and display only items of interest, for example RSS feeds of techie jobs in your area, or a stream of your favourite teams’ news, and so on. Xfruits, on the other hand, is simpler and is more of a point and click sort of web service, but both perform really well… The other nice thing about Xfruits is the ability to send to mobile phones, among other features.