Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a technology that allows Web site users to subscribe to content from various sites that are of particular interest to them. When users "subscribe" to content from a site, the content comes to them automatically -- enabling them to review larger quantities of material and stay abreast of developments much more easily than if they had to visit each site individually.
For a user to receive RSS content from a site, the following two conditions must be met:
- The Web site of interest to the user must provide content in RSS format. This formatted content is often referred to as a "feed." Some sites may provide a single RSS feed (perhaps for news), while other sites may offer multiple feeds on a variety of topics.
- The User must have an "aggregator." An aggregator is a type of software that can display content that is in RSS format. There are many aggregators available including an aggregator provided by Yahoo, other aggregators provided by Web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, and still other independent products such as SharpReader. Most aggregators are free of charge.
Generally, an aggregator will contain three display panes that provide the following: 1) a list of all the "feeds" to which the user has subscribed, 2) a list of all the items contained in whichever feed is selected, and 3) the content of the currently selected item (for example, the actual news article). The aggregator also provides a link back to the Web site providing the feed. Content in an aggregator window is refreshed at intervals determined by the user (for example, every 20 minutes, hourly, or daily).
Enabling RSS Feeds on Convio-Powered Sites
In addition to offering benefits to the user, RSS technology also provides advantages to sites that offer RSS content, since web pages on those sites will get more exposure. Convio can now enable its client sites to offer RSS feeds for Advocacy Alerts (Action Alerts and Call Alerts) and for StoryBuilder Articles. Some of the questions you might have regarding RSS are discussed below:
How do I make my site visitors aware that I offer RSS content?
Convio provides an RSS component in the WYSIWYG editor that you can place on a page to let your users know that you have RSS content available. This component looks like a button and has the link to your RSS feed embedded in it. We also provide a special component that you can add for those using My Yahoo as their aggregator. You might place an RSS component for advocacy alerts on an alert list page and place an RSS component for your StoryBuilder articles on your homepage or on a news splash page.
How do users sign up for my RSS feed?
Users who are familiar with RSS feeds will be looking for that RSS component that you placed on a page. Depending on the aggregator they are using, they may be able to simply drag the RSS component into the Address window of their aggregator to subscribe to your StoryBuilder or alert feeds. Others can access the URL shortcut associated with the button and paste that into their aggregator. My Yahoo users will simply need to click the My Yahoo component to subscribe. (To encourage more users to subscribe, you may want to add a brief description of what to do.)
What will users actually see in their aggregator?
Only the StoryBuilder articles and alerts that any Site Visitor can see will be displayed in an aggregator. Content for StoryBuilder and alerts will differ as follows:StoryBuilder Users will see the name of your feed (for example, Waikiki Site Stories) and a list of all your StoryBuilder articles, including the date each was published. When they click the title of an article, they will see the entire article, including the author, subheading, heading photo, and body of the article. The title also serves as a link to bring users to your site.
Alerts Users will see the name of your feed (for example, Waikiki Site Alerts) and a list of your Action Alerts and Call Alerts. When they click a specific alert, they will see the alert description. (Your site name will appear as the author.) Clicking the action alert name will take users to the Take Action page for that alert, while clicking a call alert name will take the user to the Make-a-Call Page for that alert.
What if I make a change to an alert or an article?
Publishing new articles or alerts will cause your RSS feed to update immediately. In addition, making any changes to an existing article or alert will also cause your feed to update. Users who are viewing your content with an aggregator will see new alerts or articles (or changes to existing items) as soon as their feed refreshes.
Can I filter which alerts or StoryBuilder articles show up in the feed?
No, everything shows up that is published.