Even though RSS has been the “next new thing” for many years, it’s not widespread. There are many reasons for this, but one has been the lack of browser integration by Microsoft. Without this easy access, people haven’t been able to see the conveniences of RSS.
RSS is a systematic way to follow web sites and news without going to all these sites. RSS makes browsing faster and more efficient. Rather than browsing this site daily to see what’s new, you can subscribe to our RSS or web feed using a feed reader such as the one in IE 7. You can then go to your Favorites Center and see if your subscribed feeds show new content. Depending on the feed, you may see the whole story or a part. Either way, you can click the title to view the complete story in your browser.
Automatically Identifying RSS Feeds
IE7, like competing browsers, can detect if a site has a web feed if the page has been properly coded. This requires the webmaster to have added a line of HTML to the web page. More sites with RSS feeds are starting to add this code which makes it easy for IE to auto discover the feed.
If IE 7 detects a feed, the toolbar provides a visual queue by turning the Feed button orange. You can also set a preference to play a sound if a feed is detected. When you press Alt+J or click the down arrow control, you can see the feed names. Some sites such as SnapFiles offer multiple feeds. Clicking the Feed button opens the first feed listed for preview.
Subscribing to a Web Feed
As you might expect, when you subscribe to a web feed it is added to your Favorites Center. You can organize your feeds in folders in a similar fashion to bookmarks. The default folder is called Feeds.
To add a new feed,
1. Go to a site that has a feed such as www.timeatlas.com
2. Click the orange feed toolbar button.
3. Review the feed contents to make sure you want to subscribe
4. In the yellow text box at the top, click Subscribe to this feed
5. In the Internet Explorer dialog, select the folder for the feed. The default folder is Feeds.
6. Click Subscribe
By default, IE will check for new feed content daily. You can adjust that time setting by right clicking the feed in the Feeds section of the Favorites Center. You can also mouse-over the feed and view when it was last updated. A refresh icon will appear to the right if you want an immediate update.
Sometimes you may run into a site where IE7 doesn’t detect the feed. You can still subscribe the feed by finding the RSS button on the site. Finding the button may not be the easiest task since some are buried. Once you click the button, the feed contents will load like it had been auto discovered.
The Common Feed List and OPML
When you add a feed to your Favorites Center in IE, it becomes part of the Common Feed List. This is an intriguing feature we hope other programs will use. You might think of this list as a master feed list that can be shared between applications on the same computer. For example, if you add a feed using IE7 on your computer and use Outlook 2007, they will share this list. This means as you add or remove an item using one application, the other stays in sync. Currently, Outlook 2007, Microsoft Windows Vista and IE 7 allow this synchronizing.
Although the Common Feed List allows you to synchronize the list, it does not affect the feed’s contents. For example, if you deleted three stories from your feed on Outlook 2007, it will not remove these stories from the contents in your IE 7 version. Those stories will still show in your IE feed. Only your feed names that are kept in sync.
If you decide to try a different RSS reader, IE 7 allows you to export your feeds as an OPML file. This file format contains your feed information, which can be imported into other programs.
For a first pass, I’ll give the RSS implementation in IE 7 a good grade. It offers the user the opportunity to benefit from RSS without the need for a dedicated reader. It’s a convenient tool for readers who don’t subscribe to lots of feeds or authenticated feeds. This version may not have all the features I like such as the ability to tag or mark feed items, support for authenticated feeds, but it does advance the RSS cause.
Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 10:57)