What does RSS, RDF or Atom feed mean ?

RSS – RSS (most commonly translated as “Really Simple Syndication” but sometimes “Rich Site Summary”) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.

An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader”, or “aggregator“, which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI – often referred to informally as a “URL” (uniform resource locator), although technically the two terms are not exactly synonymous – or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds.

RDF – RDF feed refers to data feed in RDF format. RDF is an emerging semantic web standard language ideal for describing real world objects, and the resulted RDF data resources can be consumed by computers (i.e. machine-readable). Theoretically, every web site can create RDF resources for all the information on the web site and make them available as RDF feeds. Any other web sites, if interested, can then acquire the data from the RDF feeds and integrate them with other data obtained in the same fashion. This so-called “web of data” or semantic web will open doors to a great number of new services that are not possible today. Of course, this sounds just like a dream. But, lots of people are working hard to make it a reality. W3C is leading the way followed by a large number of volunteers. For example, web2express.org just launched a free online data feed service for anyone to create RDF feeds and RDF data resources.

Atom – The name Atom applies to a pair of related standards. The Atom Syndication Format is an XML language used for web feeds, while the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub or APP) is a simple HTTP-based protocol for creating and updating web resources.

Web feeds allow software programs to check for updates published on a web site. To provide a web feed, a site owner may use specialized software (such as a content management system) that publishes a list (or “feed”) of recent articles or content in a standardized, machine-readable format. The feed can then be downloaded by web sites that syndicate content from the feed, or by feed reader programs that allow Internet users to subscribe to feeds and view their content.

A feed contains entries, which may be headlines, full-text articles, excerpts, summaries, and/or links to content on a web site, along with various metadata.

Leave a comment


  1. Hi Ashu,

    Nice Tech Info. Still i have some more Doubts. Is this possible for you to clarify my doubts and How to Contact You?


    P.S: have you come Indibloggers meet- T.Nagar, Chennai?

  2. ashutoshn

     /  March 25, 2010

    No, I have not attended Indibloggers meet


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