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Web Browser-based Feed Aggregators
By: Barzan 'Tony' Antal
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    2007-12-26

    Table of Contents:
  • Web Browser-based Feed Aggregators
  • Standard Browsers
  • RSS Extensions for Firefox
  • RSS Extensions continued
  • Closing Thoughts

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    Web Browser-based Feed Aggregators


    (Page 1 of 5 )

    Thanks to the evolution of web browsers, at this time all contemporary browsers are highlighting feed aggregating features. This means that we can benefit from the popular RSS technologies within our browsers. It isnít necessary to use dedicated standalone feed reader applications anymore. We can have it all browser-based!

    It's especially important to note that some of these incorporated solutions may not compare to mature feed readers with colossal capabilities. However, for the average Internet-savvy user, their efficiency is quite satisfying. We also shouldn't forget about the vast amounts of individual extensions that are available for certain browsers.



    This article focuses on the practicality of web browser-based feed aggregators. We are going to start with a brief introduction to RSS to clarify the concept per se, then check out alternate feed reader options, such as standalone applications and web-based online services. And ultimately we'll get to our topic -- web browser-based feed reading choices -- covering, of course, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari.

    You might wonder why web browser-based news readers are important. In short, it's because you can take advantage of the RSS technology without being required to install or integrate additional software. Hence, you can use it within your favorite browser because it is highly platform-independent. Likewise, web-based feed readers, which are online services with feed syndication abilities, are also cross-platform.

    Brief Introduction

    Let's introduce RSS. RSS is an acronym that stands for one of the following: Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and RDF Site Summary. The latest version of RSS is 2.0. Regardless, it is a content-sharing rich-text based language that is an extension of XML. Once a website is hooked up with RSS it is called "syndicated."

    Syndication is a process of aggregation that allows the content to be broadcast to all of the readers monitoring that RSS feed. Think of the method like this: the client requires the data from the server; it's akin to "pulling" the content. The client stands for the feed subscriber while the server is the publisher. Nowadays, people publish news headlines, blog entries, articles and podcasts, but also random content.

    Before we move on, let's demystify Atom. Every so often when RSS is the topic of a discussion, the word "Atom" might pop up, sparking confusion. As a result, some use these terms interchangeably, others could fight to the death pointing out the differences. What we need to know is that Atom is a flavor of RSS. It's an XML-based format that was introduced as a "proposed standard" because RSS could be improved.

    At the time of writing this article, however, RSS is still widely popular. Additionally, most of the feed readers are supporting both formats. I promised to mention a few of the alternate feed readers. Web-based readers include Google Reader, NewsGator, Bloglines. Standalone application clients include FeedDemon, RSS Bandit, FeedReader, BottomFeeder.

    Now we can fiddle with practical web browser-based aggregation choices. We're going to review a few options based on their functionality, such as added features, intuitive design, ability to manage feeds, customized syndication interval, stability, etc.

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