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Web Content Syndication

Web Content Syndication is a form of syndication in which a section of a website is made available for other sites to use.



More commonly these days web content syndication refers to making Web feeds available from a site so other people can display an updating list of content from it (for example one's latest news or forum postings, etc.).

Although the format could be HTML or JavaScript, it is more commonly XML.

Considerable discussion about the right format has led to RSS, which has several parallel versions, and more recent attempts produced the new Atom web syndication format and protocol. Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0) is the XML format for Web Content Syndication mainly used on EUROPA.



  • RSS 2.0

Guidelines and references

In general terms, Web Content Syndication (WCS) could be defined as automatically re-publishing content from one web site on another website.

In many ways, WCS is also similar to the subscription newsletters that many sites offer to keep viewers up-to-date. The big difference is that they do not have to supply an e-mail address, removing the obstacle of privacy concerns, while still providing a direct channel to its viewers. They also get to see the content in the most convenient manner, thus ensuring a larger audience.

In order to make this new form of communication possible, a series of XML-derived file format have been defined. There is not a standard format for Web Content Syndication. Nevertheless, more and more sites are adapting their content in order to serve it via “feeds” and so it seems sure to play a major role in the future of the WWW; changing the way we receive information online.

To use this technology, site owners create or obtain specialized software (such as a content management system) which, in the machine-readable XML format, presents new articles in a list, giving a line or two of each article and a link to the full article or post. Unlike subscriptions to many printed newspapers and magazines, most feed subscriptions are free.

The feed formats provide web content or summaries of web content together with links to the full versions of the content, and other meta-data. This information is delivered as an XML file called an feed, webfeed, stream or channel. A feed is an XML-based document which contains content items, often summaries of stories or weblog posts with web links to longer versions. Weblogs and news websites are common sources for web feeds, but feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data to "top ten" lists of hit tunes.

The technology allows Internet users to subscribe to websites that have provided feeds; these are typically sites that change or add content regularly.

The terms "publishing a feed" and syndication are used to describe making available a feed for an information source. Like syndicated print newspaper features or broadcast programs, webfeed contents may be shared and republished by other web sites.

Web Content Syndication

In addition to facilitating syndication, Web Content Syndication feeds allows a website's frequent readers to track updates on the site using an feed reader (or aggregator).

Users can have feeds delivered in several ways:

  • Using a standalone desktop client. Readers are downloaded to computer and run independently of other software.
  • Via an E-mail client. Plug-ins for Outlook or other POP3 e-mail client that allow it to receive feeds in the e-mail window.
  • Via a Web browser. There are two types:
    • Web browser plug-ins, and
    • Aggregator web sites. They are subscription online services that allow viewing feeds using any Web browser. If users use one of the web-based readers, they can access feeds from anywhere, just by signing into the website that manages the feeds. Also of interest to those unable to download and install software; they provide free news aggregation services that can be accessed through normal web browsers. On the other hand, having the feeds collected on a single web page means users still have to visit that web page.
  • Via a mobile device.

Web feeds are designed to be machine readable, so there is no requirement that they be destined only for human readers. For example, business partners could use web feeds to exchange sales data or other information without any human intervention.

Web feeds are most commonly found in various RSS formats or in Atom format.

The following symbols on a web page indicate whether it has feeds

Web Content Syndication

With the proliferation of feeds definitions arose the need for a format to exchange subscription lists. There were several attempts, among them the most widely used is Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) is a file format that can be used to exchange subscription lists between programs such as feed readers and aggregators. Originally developed by Radio UserLand as a native file format for an outliner application it has since been adopted for other uses, to exchange lists of feeds between aggregators, and also has become popular as a format for exchanging data between other outliners and server programs, that use outlines to specify directories and slide presentations. The OPML specification defines an outline as a hierarchical, ordered list of arbitrary elements. The specification is fairly open which makes it suitable for many types of list data. As a side-effect, subscription lists can be edited and organized using any OPML-compatible outliner. The latest version is version 1.0 (September 2000).

References & Background information: RSS in Windows Vista Plazoo Feed Search Engine RSSfeed Feed Search Engine Experimental Validator Feed Validator W3C RDF Validator Resource Description Framework (RDF) Outline Markup Language (OML) Universal Subscription Mechanism (USM) Dublin Core MetadataInitiative - Creative Commons Licenses



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