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Syndication for the Really Simple May 3, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, General Ranting, News and politics.
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The family gathers around the wireless

           The Internet is rapidly transitioning from a text-based to a media based venue.  One of the most popular methods today to share information on the Internet is to establish an RSS feed to share your message with the world. 

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  It is a set of Internet protocols (or rules) for spreading information in the form of audio and video media.  It allows for devices other than PCs to download and save the content of the feed in question and allow it to be viewed/listened to.  Things like iPads, iPods, tablets, PCs, and even newer model car and home radios can access the information, most commonly through the Apple iStore.  The feed files are downloaded behind the scenes and stored on board the device until it is accessed.  The  feed is easy to set up, the media is easy to generate, and the  connection is completely reliable.  Along with social media outlets like twitter.com and facebook.com, the RSS feed is a perfect way to present information, promote a business or site, and generate steam over an issue.

The heart of an RSS feed is a document written in a format called Extensible Markup Language or XML.  This markup language allows for the entering of text that can be described like an entry in a database.  The layout is similar to HTML in that it uses tags and brackets to designate your tags.  Instead of using tags like <bold> and <center> todemark text, XML uses tags to describe what the text stands for.  If you are making a list of books, for example, you might create a tag called <author> to describe who wrote the book.  When viewed in a browser, the tab is not visible but the text is.  More importantly you can then use various database operations on the text file to search and analyze the data without having to create a database of the information.  The tags let you manipulate the data. In creating a syndication feed, only a few tags are needed in a very simple layout.  No special software of any type is needed.  I do most of mine in notepad.  XML documents must have  a proper header.  I am not going into the creation of every tag in a document but I will show you the most important ones.  You can download the example I am using, it is the XML document that feeds the news tag embedded in this page.  Right-click HERE and select “Save target as…”  Tell it to save on your desktop and you can open it in notepad and examine it at your leisure.  You can also use it as a template to make your own feeds.

The tags determine if the feed is of proper format.  If not, the browsers and devices will not be able to read the feed.  That is why it is called a protocol.  The word means rule or procedure.  If you don’t follow the rules, the feed won’t work.  Since this feed concerns audio mp3 files, we need to create tags that associate with that kind of media.  The first thing we need is a tag to designate the title fo the file.  We use the really imaginative tag <title> to designate the title of the file.  When we read the feed in a browser, the tag won’t show up but the title will be there and it will act as a link to the file.  On a PC you can click and listen.  On an iPad or iPod the file will automatically download if it has not already downloaded.  That is the great thing about RSS.  The feed only gets things you don’t already have. 

Each file needs a text description that is visible in the feed so that we know if we want to listen to it or not.  The tag we use is (once again very descriptive and imaginatively)  called <description>.  Remember, each tag must have a closing tag that relates to it.  For each <title> there must be a </title> and so on.

Download and use the file above as a template for your own RSS feed.  You will need an Internet server to host with.  Godaddy.com is a combination of best, easiest, and cheapest and I use it exclusively.  You don’t have to establish a web site but you need a directory that is accessible to the Internet.  Put your XML file and all your media into this folder and use the folder/domain name to acces it via the Internet.  If you are not familiar with registering a domain or setting up directories and links google something like “setting up a domain and web site” and you will get everything you need.  Once you have the feed set up and connected, be sure to set up an account with Apple’s iTunes so you can use it to distribute your feed.  You can also put links into every page you own or can talk to owner into.

If you own a business or publicize via social media or have any message to present to the world, you would be hard press to find an easier way to reach more people.  The iTunes app does all the promotion for you.  Just remember to get the tags right and be sure you have an iTunes account and you are on the way.  If you choose, you can forgo the iTunes completely and just publish and promote the feed yourself but iTunes is free and it is a shame not to take advantage of it.  You will need some special tags for the feed to be iTunes compatible but they are already in place in the template I have provided you.  Happy Podcasting – nite all.

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Comments»

1. regan222 - May 3, 2012

Be SURE to click on the little orange square at the right border of my blog to listen to MY podcast. Currently it has old time radio news programs up. Soon it will have sermons as I get more and more recorded. If you click on the square or the title of the feed it will take you to listen. You can also subscribe to my feed and you will get background downloads of mp3’s as I post them. You don’t have to do anything but listen.


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