More and more websites are using RSS (or XML) feeds to provide headline information about news items and updates, including podcasts. The term RSS feed is often associated with podcasting.
Finding and detecting RSS feeds assumes that the website designers have provided the information for you. More and more websites are incorporating graphical symbols to indicate that a RSS or XML feed is published via the website.
Following the instructions provided on the website, it is possible to "subscribe" to the feed and use this with other software, often referred to as news aggregators or news readers. Increasingly, this software can also manage and download podcasts.
An increasing number of web browsers incorporate facilities to identify these feeds. The advent of RSS-savvy web browsers makes it much easier to detect the presence of a RSS feed and display the contents (assuming the relevant information is coded in the page). Any podcasts are treated like any other link and will often play in the browser.
Locating RSS feeds can be achieved in at least four different ways:
Two web browsers, Firefox (PC and Mac) and Safari (Mac v.2) already have these functions built-in. If using either browser you see the symbols already on this page! A future release of Internet Explorer (for PC and Mac) is likely to include something similar.
When Firefox encounters a RSS feed a symbol appears in the bottom left hand corner of the browser window - as shown opposite (with an enlarged insert).
Clicking the symbol brings up instructions on how to "subscribe" to the feed by adding it as a live bookmark. This means that with the browser running, the feed will automatically update as the RSS feed is updated. This is a useful feature and allows you to monitor the RSS feeds and identify when they have been updated.
In Safari, the RSS feed is identified in the web address bar with the blue RSS symbol - as shown opposite (with an enlarged insert).
Clicking on the symbol changes the display and lists the items in the RSS feed. There are various options available and the feed can be book marked in the usual way.
You should find full instructions on how to use these features in the help files provided with your software and operating system.
If you visually scan a website you may be able to locate information suggesting the site has a RSS or XML feed. Depending on the website design, some of these are easy to locate because they are prominently displayed. Most websites make use of graphical symbols.
Increasing numbers of podcasters are using variations of the RSS symbol to indicate that there is a podcast feed but this is not, as yet, common practice. The symbol used on this website is shown opposite.
Clicking on these symbols often provides information and instructions on how to subscribe to the RSS feed. Try this now to be presented with information about the feed from this website.
The precise instructions do vary from one website to another and often it will be a case of "trial and error". You will often find that some RSS feeds do not include direct links to the podcast because you are taken direct to the website instead where information about the podcast is presented, together with hyper links to the podcast.
Versions of iTunes later than 4.9 incorporate podcasting facilities and will provide another way to locate and manage podcasts within the directory and subscribe to podcasts so that they are automatically downloaded to your computer.
The explosion in the number of podcasts that are no available on the Internet has spawned the introduction of directories that categorise and publish details about podcast channels and the different genre of podcasts. Most of these directories (like this one) make use of the RSS feeds that have been published by podcasters themselves and incorporate a search engine to locate podcasts by genre, title etc.
The search facilities on our website use a different approach and allow you to search the podcast title or podcast description within a category, using your own choice of a word or phrase. The search facility is located near the top of most of our web pages, is quick and easy to use and presents the result as a list of all of the podcasts within the category that match the "keyword" or "key phrase".
A very useful directory of podcast directories is published on the podcast411.com website (note: this link opens in a new window). Other directories are beginning to list alternative sources for podcasts, particularly as the range and type of podcasts diversifies further.
Some of the directories also feature OPML, making it easy to import "ready made" lists of RSS feeds. Look out for a graphic similar to this on various websites - our graphic is displayed on most pages and following the link provided will give you further details and information about our OPML files.
Whilst all the podcasts listed in this directory are selected in line with our criteria, we do strongly recommend that the contents of all podcasts, podcast feeds and channels are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are suitable and appropriate for the age range of the children and young people.