What with all the fancy technologies and acronyms whirling around the web (and your head) at the moment, it's easy to get lost in the simpler things that help the Web work. One of those things is RSS, or Really Simple Syndication.

The whole concept of RSS really opened up the ability to take data from multiple sources, repurpose it and repackage it for an entirely different end result - and developers love it. Today, RSS is definitely one of the web's core features. It's the ability to take feeds from sites - and there's agreed formats (several of which are the de-facto standards) in which this data is published for the benefit of all to aggregate, remix, mashup... Who couldn't like that kind of thing? Projects like Yahoo Pipes just make the concept even more accessible for end users, meaning that what was once the preserve of hard-core coders is now accessible by everyone. And isn't that what the Web's about?

Arguably, the most commonly-recognised formats are Atom and RSS - you'll usually find links to both of these formats of feeds on all the most popular web sites. Don't worry if you don't understand the principle behind RSS, because I still don't quite have my head around the finer points of the format! And this is where this Cheatsheet starts to come in handy... If you're struggling with your RSS understanding though, don't worry - it's not as hard as you'd think. In fact, the principles behind RSS are really quite nice and simple once you understand the buzzwords.

So, if you want to brush up on your tech knowledge, Commoncraft have put together a nice little tutorial for everybody - just watch this handy little video guide: "RSS in plain English" and all will be revealed. If you want to download it for future viewing, you can do that too.


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