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Chapter 9. Public Syndication > An Overview of RSS

An Overview of RSS

To understand RSS, you have to start with XML. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. In simplest terms, XML does for computers and software what HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) does for humans—it provides a common, standardized way to present information. When you look at an XML file, you’ll see something that looks a lot like an HTML file, with tags, descriptions, and text. The two look alike because they’re related, both derived from SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language that is the granddaddy of many current markup languages. What you’re seeing, though, is a description of data and how it’s arranged. XML is the language that more and more applications and control systems use to pass data between one another, but we’re most interested for its use in one type of application: RSS readers.

Now, as you begin to think about building an RSS feed (“feed” is what the RSS and its related content is called), you should be aware that there are several versions of RSS floating around. There are several reasons for the multiple versions, but you don’t need to worry about them. You just need to know of two versions, and stick to one of them for your podcast.


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