I’m all for subtle and effective change. Tiger Safari’s use of RSS gives Mac users a way to check on dozens of web sites without using a standalone RSS reader. Is that good, or bad?
Actually, it’s both good and bad. For the record, RSS stands for ‘really simple syndication’ (or something else, depending on what you think you know).
RSS is a straightforward communication protocol that allows web sites to list a headline, a summary, an author and other information that can be ‘read’ by an RSS reader every so often.
The RSS reader checks for recent article updates on web sites that you subscribe to and provides you with the headline and summary and a quick link to the article.
Instead of having to hunt all over the web and drag yourself through dozens of web sites, their headlines and a summary come to you and you choose.
The advantage is that you get to view many, many more web sites, and you can do it in less time. RSS is here to stay.
On the Mac, there are a dozen or so RSS readers which standalone and do the job; some even pull down the whole web page so you don’t have to open your web browser.
Apple built an RSS reader into OS X Tiger’s Safari. While it’s short on bells and whistles, it’s long on convenience because a whole page of headlines and summaries can be listed at once, updated frequently, and you’re still only a click away from the whole article.
RSS has gained in popularity and it’s a rare news or information web site (the kind that are updated frequently) that does not have an RSS feed.
I’ll leave the how-to’s to previous articles or the forums. Which RSS readers are best? Which are the most popular on the Mac?
The former is subjective, the latter is easily quantified using statistics from Mac360 users. NetNewsWire Lite is free and slightly more popular among our readers than the highly capable NewsFire. I like both. I use both. They’re among the best, most mature, most stable.
There are others. NewsBug, NewsFan, NewsMac. There are some that are not pretty. MiNews, Feed, Feedticker, FeedMe. You get the idea.
In terms of popularity among our readers, Number One is NetNewsWire, followed closely by NewsFire, now followed very closely by Safari. That’s right. Safari is among the top three RSS readers for Mac360 users?
Why? It has the least amount of features and could not be more plain jane vanilla in presenting RSS headlines and summaries.
Two words: Convenience, Price.
“The end result? I haven’t bought anything but the Sunday newspaper in about a year. No more Time magazine or Business Week, either.”Safari is free and the RSS reader is built in. That makes it easy for Tiger users to get set up with RSS feeds, add to the feed collection, and not have to worry about other applications.
Mac360, thanks to Tera and pMachine, was one of the first Mac sites to employ RSS. Oh, there are many RSS versions out there. RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, RSS Atom, and more.
RSS can also be set up to link to Podcasting and video casting. iTunes uses a modified version of RSS to let users subscribe, via iTunes, to Podcasts and Podcasts with video.
More RSS ‘standards’ are on the way in the future as Microsoft plans to introduce their own brand of RSS, possibly further fragmenting an already fragmented technology.
While there are plenty of books available on RSS, such as RSS Made Easy, it’s easy enough to find all you need to know about RSS on the web.
Google “RSS” and you’ll be busy reading up on everything you ever wanted to know about RSS—for a week.
What’s ugly about RSS and Podcasting? Information. Rather, the bulk of information. I’m literally swimming in RSS links. A few hundred show up in Safari, NewsFire, NetNewsWire each day. I select what I can, ditch the rest.
The end result? I haven’t bought anything but the Sunday newspaper in about a year. No more Time magazine or Business Week, either.