Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Real Simple Syndication Part Two

In the last article I showed you how to set up My Yahoo for an RSS feed. I chose that as an example because it was not software-specific and everyone can easily access it.

Well, now I'm going to show you the best way to look at your RSS feeds. Given all of the Aggregators out there, that might seem to be quite a statement. But this is best because it is simple, integrates with your browser, and is simple. OK, maybe I said simple twice. :-)

First, if you are not using Firefox as your browser you should be. Get it, install it, and thrill to a new browsing experience. Tabbed windows are just part of the joy.

Also cool is how the browser can be customised to an amazing extent through third-party applications called extensions. Though they are separate tools, integration with your browser is seemless.

So do this: under the Tools menu choose Extensions and then the link Get More Extensions. All this does is take you to a particular web page. Search for Sage. Or to skip all that just use this link.

Download/install Sage and restart Firefox. Under your Tools menu there will now be an option for Sage. Select this and a panel will open up with some default RSS feeds. You can delete these, add more, and change some options from the rather obvious menu.

It is easy to add a new feed. For example, when you surf to my blog a cute little orange icon will show up in the lower-right corner of the Firefox status bar. Click this and you can add the feed address directly to your Favourites menu (aka bookmarks). But better yet, the first option is "Sage Feeds" and sure enough choosing this adds my RSS feed to the Sage panel. All with one click!

Some sites may not automatically activate this Live Bookmark feature. In those cases just snag the RSS feed URL as usual from the orange RSS or XML icon on the site and manually create a new bookmark.

If you want off-line reading of RSS feeds there are many apps, one of the most highly regarded being RSS Bandit.

But simple is good, easy is good, and integration is good. Sage scores on all these points.

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