Home > English, German, Other > Staying up-to-date with Web Feeds

Staying up-to-date with Web Feeds

This time, the article is written both in English, and German.
Diesmal gibt’s den Artikel sowohl in Englisch als auch auf Deutsch.

English version

Most, if not all of my readers are friends that know me personally. Since I am into computer science and geeky stuff, some of them know about techniques like RSS, too, but others don’t. I am sure, most of my readers are eagerly waiting all day just for a new entry in my blog, refreshing their browser every five minutes, but I have some good news: You don’t need to and will still be informed on the spot about my newest brilliant insights! Something called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or Atom (which is basically the same) will tell you automatically when something new happened. This article will tell you how to use these, it’s easy and yet very useful – not only for this blog. It is written for firefox and thunderbird, but other browsers probably have similar features.

Built-in RSS functionality in firefox

Built-in RSS functionality in firefox

Let’s just dive into it right now, without any technical mumbo jumbo: On the right side of this blog you might have noticed a button labelled RSS feed. Open this one in a new tab, by pressing the CTRL key and clicking on it (CTRL open pages in the background, instead of in the current tab of your browser). If you have a look at the page opened, you will see an overview of all recently published articles, as well as a suggestion by firefox to subscribe to this feed. A feed is data to tell your software when there is new content, just like the rss page you just clicked on. If you subscribe to it, a new bookmark will appear. Now, if you click on it, it will not open the web site, but instead it will give you an overview of all articles/content that is currently available on the site. Furthermore, if there is new content, the icon will change automatically, so now you are always informed, if there is something new happening! Even more, it now becomes very easy to select any article previously created just using one bookmark. But, there’s also an even easier way to do this: Noticed the little icon in the address bar before? Just click on it, then firefox will allow you to subscribe to any feed it found on the page (see Screenshot). But it does not have to stop here; today, in the times of Web 2.0 (don’t get me started on the meaning of this term…), there are most web sites having regularly updated content allow you to subscribe to feeds, not only blogs. I will list some examples here, to give the idea of content subscription:

Basically, if you regularly visit an interesting site and want to be informed of its changes easily, just search the page for the term “rss” (or use the firefox icon). Often, there are also options to directly add it to personalised start pages like iGoogle or Netvibes. For myself, I prefer another option even more: a news/feed reader client like thunderbird.

Adding a RSS feed to thunderbird

Adding a RSS feed to thunderbird

Thunderbird’s RSS functionality is not much more advanced than firefox’, but I like it a bit more, though that’s just personal preference. Let’s say, you want to subscribe to the sites listed above. Open thunderbird and add a new account for News & Blogs. To do so, click the menu in the following order: File -> New -> Account -> RSS News and Blogs. Choose any name you want (default is fine) and finish. Now, there is a new account in the left side of thunderbird. Right-click on it. Now, create two new folders, one for news and one for blogs (this is optional, each feed can also have it’s site name as a folder, this is merely for aggregating different feeds into one folder). Next, right-click again and choose subsribe. Click Add, copy&paste the feed url and choose the folder it should be put into (see screenshot). If you select News & Blogs, a new folder will be created automatically. Now, every time you open thunderbird (and every half an hour), the feeds you subscribed to will be automatically checked for new content. And using the subject, you can immediately choose if you’re interested to read more, or discard it. Of course, in this blog every article is worth reading ­čśë . To conclude: RSS and Atom feeds are a very elegant way to be up-to-date without much effort. Instead of having to check for new content yourself, your software will tell you when there’s something new. All your favourite sites will be checked, giving you an instant overview, interesting and uninteresting new content at once. Not only it safes a lot of time, you also will not miss anything again if not checking for some time. Personally I have subscribed eight feeds at the moment, which is not so much compared to others, but still I enjoy it a lot. Hope you found this article to be useful and maybe will try out RSS for yourself, if you haven’t yet.

Deutsche Version

Die meisten, wenn nicht sogar alle Leser meines Blogs sind Freunde, die ich pers├Ânlich kenne. Da ich selbst Informatiker bin, kennen wahrscheinlich einiger meiner Leser selbst solche Technniken wie RSS, aber andere werden es nicht kennen. Ich bin mir sicher, dass meine Leser, wenn die Zeit es zul├Ąsst, den ganzen Tag damit verbringen, auf neue Inhalte dieses Blogs zu warten, nichts anderes machend als ihren Browser alle f├╝nf Minuten neu zu laden, aber f├╝r solche F├Ąlle habe ich eine gute Nachricht: Das ist nicht weiter notwendig, denn es gibt einen eleganten Weg, wie ihr automatisch ├╝ber die neuesten brillianten Artikel meinerseits informiert werdet!. Eine Technik namens RSS (Really Simple Syndication) oder Atom (was im wesentlichen das Gleiche bietet) leistet hier Hilfestellung. Dieser Artikel soll demonstrieren, wie man diese Techniken nutzen kann, was nicht nur einfach und n├╝tzlich ist, sondern┬á auch von zahlreichen weiteren Seiten angeboten wird. Ich gehe dabei von Firefox und Thunderbird aus, f├╝r andere Programme gibt es aber vermutlich ├Ąhnliche Funktionalit├Ąt.

Eingebaute RSS-Funktionalit├Ąt in Firefox

Eingebaute RSS-Funktionalit├Ąt in Firefox

Ich fange gleich an, ohne gro├čes technisches blah-blah. Auf der rechten Seite dieses Blogs (oben) habt ihr vielleicht einen Knopf namens RSS feed bemerkt. ├ľffnet diesen in einem neuen Tab, indem ihr die STRG-Taste gedr├╝ckt haltet und draufklickt (STRG ├Âffneten Seiten in einem neuen Tab im Hintergrund, statt im gleichen Fenster). Was dort zu sehen ist, ist eine ├ťbersicht ├╝ber alle aktuellen Artikel sowie ein Vorschlag von Firefox, diesen Feed zu abonnieren. Ein Feed ist im Prinzip eine Sammlung von Daten, die einer Software sagen, wann und welche neuen Inhalte verf├╝gbar sind. Wenn ihr diesen Feed nun abonniert, wird ein neues Lesezeichen angelegt. Wenn ihr dieses anw├Ąhlt, wird es nicht wie ├╝blich zur Seite gehen, sondern eine Auswahl aller aktuellen Artikel darstellen.┬á Dar├╝ber hinaus pr├╝ft Firefox jede Stunde nach neuen Inhalten und zeigt automatisch an, wenn etwas Neues verf├╝gbar ist. Au├čerdem wird es so sehr einfach, vorherige Artikel mit nur einem Lesezeichen aufzurufen, ohne die Seiten durchsuchen zu m├╝ssen. Aber es gibt sogar noch einen einfacheren Weg, das zu erreichen: Ist euch das Icon in der Adressleiste aufgefallen? Dieses erscheint, wenn eine Seite Feeds anbietet. Wenn dieses Icon angeklickt wird, k├Ânnen ganz einfach alle Feeds der Seite abonniert werden (s. Screenshot). Aber es ist das Zeitalter des Web 2.0 (fangt blo├č nicht an, mich auf die Bedeutung dieses Begriffs anzusprechen…), d.h. sinnvolle Funktionalit├Ąt wird ├╝berall kopiert und ├╝berall eingesetzt. Die meisten Seiten, die regelm├Ą├čig neue Inhalte ver├Âffentlichen, stellen Feeds zur Verf├╝gung. Ein paar Beispiele:

Grundlegend: Wenn ihr regelm├Ą├čig eine interessante Seite besucht und euch schnell ├╝ber Neuerungen informieren wollt, durchsucht die Seite einfach nach dem Begriff RSS (oder nutzt das Firefox-Icon). Oft gibt es sogar M├Âglichkeiten, diese direkt zu personalisierten Startseiten wie iGoogle oder Netvibes hinzuzuf├╝gen. Ich aber bevorzuge eine andere Alternative: Einen News-/Feedreader wie Thunderbird.

Hinzuf├╝gen eines RSS-Feeds zu Thunderbird

Hinzuf├╝gen eines RSS-Feeds zu Thunderbird

Zwar ist die RSS-Funktionalit├Ąt von Thunderbird nicht wesentlich fortgeschrittener als die von Firefox, aber ich bevorzuge sie trotzdem, auch wenn das mehr eine pers├Ânliche Geschmacksfrage ist. Sagen wir mal, ihr wollt die oben genannten Seiten abonnieren. Also ├Âffnet Thunderbird und legt ein neues Konto f├╝r News & Blogs an (da ich die englische Version von Thunderbird nutze, sind folgende Namen geraten, aber ihr findet euch schon zurecht). Um das zu machen, klickt euch durch’s Men├╝: Datei -> Neu -> Konto -> RSS News und Blogs. W├Ąhlt einen beliebigen Namen (der vorgegebene reicht aus). Nun sollte in der linken H├Ąlfte von Thunderbird das neue Konto erschienen sein. Macht einen Rechtsklick darauf und erstellt zwei neue Ordner, einen f├╝r News und einen f├╝r Blogs (das ist optional, jeder Feed kann auch seinen eigenen Ordner haben, z.B. den Namen der Webseite. Dies dient nur der ├ťbersichtlichkeit und Zusammenfassung verschiedener Feeds). Als n├Ąchstes wird abonniert, wieder ├╝ber Rechtsklick. W├Ąhlt Hinzuf├╝gen, macht jeweils copy&paste der Feed URLs und w├Ąhlt die zugeh├Ârigen Ordner aus (s. Screenshot). Falls ihr als ├╝bergeordneten Ordner News & Blogs gew├Ąhlt habt, wird automatisch ein neuer Ordner erstellt. Das war’s auch schon. Jedesmal wenn ihr Thunderbird startet sowie alle halbe Stunde werden die abonnierten Feeds automatisch auf neue Inhalte gepr├╝ft. Und durch ├ťberfliegen des Betreffs kann man sofort erkennen, ob einen der Inhalt ggf. interessiert oder nicht. Nat├╝rlich ist, was diesen Blog betrifft, es jeder Artikel wert gelesen zu werden ­čśë . Zusammengefasst: RSS und Atom Feeds sind ein sehr eleganter Weg, immer auf dem Laufenden zu bleiben, ohne viel Aufwand. Anstatt selbst nach neuen Inhalten zu schauen, sagt die Software bescheid, sobald sich etwas getan hat. Alle Lieblingsseiten werden gepr├╝ft, eine ├ťbersicht wird gegeben und man kann sofort nach potentiell interessanten oder uninteressanten Inhalten filtern. Nicht nur, dass das eine Menge Zeit sparen kann, man verpasst auch nichts mehr, wenn man l├Ąngere Zeit nicht nachgeschaut hat. Momentan habe ich acht Feeds abonniert, was im Verh├Ąltnis zu anderen zwar nicht ├╝berm├Ą├čig viel ist, aber f├╝r mich pers├Ânlich dennoch sehr hilfreich und n├╝tzlich ist. Ich hoffe, ihr fandet auch diesen Artikel hilfreich und n├╝tzlich; und probiert RSS doch einfach mal mit euren Lieblingsseiten aus!

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