RSS feeds and ATOM feeds are simply special types of web pages. Websites typically use such feeds to notify its visitors when something new has been posted on their website. TheSiteWizard.com's RSS feed, for example, usually contains news about new articles appearing on the website as well as new or updated scripts that may be published. RSS and ATOM are simply the names of two different types of formats of the feeds. Most websites using site feeds choose to use either one or the other. From the user's perspective, however, it doesn't matter which format the site uses, since both serve the same function.
To "subscribe" to a site feed, whether RSS or ATOM, you need a feed reader. Simply point the reader to the URL (address) of the site feed, and it will do the rest: it will display the contents of the feed in a window or panel for you. The feed will look like a series of messages. Although the word "subscribe" is used, there is no actual subscription (in the traditional sense of the word) involved. You do not need to give your email address, fork out any money, nor furnish any information whatsoever. Your feed reader does all the real work: it checks the website regularly to see if the feed has been updated. If the latter has been changed, the feed reader software will inform you and allow you to read it, giving you the illusion that you have subscribed to some sort of newsletter or message service.
Some browsers already contain built-in support for tracking and reading RSS and ATOM site feeds. Often, in those browsers, all you have to do is to click on the link to the feed to subscribe to it. The browser will then alert you whenever there are new items in the site feed and provide you a way to read it from within the browser. At the time this was written, browsers that contain built-in support for tracking and reading RSS feeds include Opera (which has versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, etc), Safari (Mac OS X) and Internet Explorer 7 and above (Windows only). Those who use Firefox can download an extension that allows them to read feeds. One such extension is Sage, which supports both RSS and ATOM feeds.
If you have a browser that supports the reading of newsfeeds, just click on this link http://www.thesitewizard.com/thesitewizard.xml.
Another alternative to using your web browser is to download specialised feed reader software. There are numerous such software around on the Internet, many of them free of charge. Since I don't use standalone feed reader software, I'm not able to give you any recommendations, but you can get free ones from thefreecountry.com's Free Offline News Feed Readers and News Aggregators page. Since they are all free, you can download as many of them as you like to find one that appeals to you.
To add thesitewizard.com's newsfeed to the software, just use the following URL: http://www.thesitewizard.com/thesitewizard.xml. (Simply, click the right mouse button on the link, and select "Copy shortcut" or its equivalent from the menu that appears. Then paste it into your feed reader at the appropriate place.)
Yet another way to read ATOM and RSS feeds is to use an online feed aggregator (also known as news aggregator). This is basically an online service that you can access using your web browser. You'll have to sign up for the service and tell it what URL to track. In the case of thesitewizard.com's RSS feed, the URL is http://www.thesitewizard.com/thesitewizard.xml. You can then read the feed using your web browser - the online feed aggregator will format the feed in a manner that can be conveniently read by any web browser.
For your convenience, you can click the relevant button or link below to automatically add your feed to your online feed aggregator. For example if you use Google Reader, just click on the "Add to Google" button, and the feed will automatically be added to your list of feeds in Google Reader.
If you want to create your own RSS site feeds, a convenient way is to use a RSS feed creator or editor. Two such editors are the commercial Feed Editor (download trial) and FeedForAll (download trial). Either of these software provide a simple way to get a site feed up and running on your site with little hassle.
Do you find this article useful? You can learn of new articles and scripts that are published on thesitewizard.com by subscribing to the RSS feed. Simply point your RSS feed reader or a browser that supports RSS feeds at http://www.thesitewizard.com/thesitewizard.xml. You can read more about how to subscribe to RSS site feeds from my RSS FAQ.
This article is copyrighted. Please do not reproduce this article in whole or part, in any form, without obtaining my written permission.
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