RSS triggers

What do RSS readers read and what triggers an update? My reader has a list of headlines or topics for each site I follow, so that when I click on them they link to individual pages. Is there just one central site feed that looks for new or updated pages and adds them to that list in my reader?

As for RSS feeds on individual ages - if I want to have a single page that lists events does the update to the entire page trigger the feed update or can I make it so that each new information piece (a heading with some descriptive text under it) triggers the feed?

And if I just have a table that is updated will anything be triggered?

I hope some people can shine a light on how RSS interacts with pages so I can get an idea of how it works and how to design for RSS.

RSS does not interact with pages. You need a script - ie php to generate or display RSS. All feeds are dated so a reader script simply looks to see if the date is different.

RussellB, RSS readers simply visit the RSS feed itself (that’s subscribed to), parse the XML to see what’s occurred since the feed was last successfully syndicated (either by date or by anything post the title of the last displayed feed item). The update synchronisation times depend on what the user sets, it can be anything from once a minute to once a month (or further). To build a RSS feed of recently posted pages you would need to have a script in place which generates that feed on the fly. Though be warned: RSS was not built with the intent of having to click links to read content on the web, you will get a fewer number of subscribers if you follow this model rather than having the article in full (or depending on the size with a good introduction on the details). The whole point of RSS is to keep people interested in your brand by letting them read the latest news where they want, not to tell them “we have updates, visit the site”. :slight_smile:

PS: As Matt stated above, RSS doesn’t interact with pages, it’s simply an external file which is updated by the site owner to house the recent events of that site.


Usually you set up a CMS (WordPress, ExpressionEngine etc…) to handle RSS. You just post your content and the RSS feed gets updated automatically. You can specify what information is and is not added to the feed. For example, if you update your About Me text you may not want that to appear in the feed, whereas you’ll want blog posts etc to be recorded.

If you have a static site, you can hand code your own RSS feed, but it’s not very efficient. Still, it’s an option. I did a little experiment with this last year, and posted the results in case you want a few tips.

Thanks everyone - I needed to start somewhere. The example on the blog will help as well. Time to get out the code pen!