RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It allows visitors to subscribe to feeds on topics of interest. In a college or university setting, RSS can be used to easily deliver content such as breaking news, emergencies, and events on campus. This can save time for both content end-users and site visitors.

When new items are added to a feed, the visitor will be able to view them through a feed reader. Feed readers turn the RSS XML file into something that's easy to read. Feed readers can operate through an email client, a web browser, or as a stand-alone news reader.

 RSS With and Without a Feed Reader

RSS Feed Viewed with No Feed Reader

RSS Feed with Firefox's Feed Reader

Feeds are often thought of as news tickers. They are often limited to a title and short description, with the title generally linking to the full article or page. Media, dates or other elements may also be included in the feed. What is displayed depends on the feed reader being used and what it is configured to display. The feeds can also be parsed to be displayed on a page within the campus website.

While feeds can be set with a plethora of extensions, they are generally XML-type files, and that is what OU Campus uses. An RSS feed is a single XML document that follows the RSS format and is hosted alongside other website resource files.

RSS in OU Campus

OU Campus can be used to manage the use of RSS as a content delivery medium for syndicated content. Template options, such as XML variables and built-in support for custom scripts in many scripting languages allow for flexible implementations in the presentation of news and media feeds.

RSS feeds and RSS feed groups can be set up by level 10 administrators and feed items can be added by users. For more information on setting up feeds, feed groups, and adding items, visit the following three pages:

  • RSS Feeds: Traditional and Media RSS feeds are available to be created by a level 10 administrator and are assigned to a page or directory using access settings.
  • RSS Feed GroupsRSS feeds can be easily combined into aggregate groups in OU Campus for syndication on the website or newsreader subscription. Individual feeds can be added to multiple feed groups that are updated automatically.
  • RSS Feed Items: RSS items in OU Campus can be automatically created when a page is created, and published to a feed or feeds when the page is published. It is also possible for a page to be associated with a particular feed after the feed has been created. OU Campus provides for easy creation and management of any number of RSS feeds.

The granularity of the information can also be controlled by determining if just headlines and short summaries are to be displayed or entire articles automatically downloaded. RSS feeds can be read in web browsers, email clients or stand-alone RSS software.

RSS feeds can be published to different/multiple targets. When rebuilding the feed the default publish target can be overridden.

In addition, RSS can be automatically converted into an SMS message and delivered to all subscribing cell phone users.

Media RSS

Media RSS extends the capabilities of RSS feeds by allowing the inclusion of media content, including videos, pictures, podcasts, and files. The easy-to-use Media RSS interface allows users to add media content to a feed without the need for any special programming or technical knowledge.

Media RSS complements the RSS 2.0 specification, allowing the attachment of media items to a feed without the need to place these items inside the RSS description. An advantage to using Media RSS, as opposed to using regular RSS 2.0, is the separation of content; the RSS description remains clean, and users are directed to visit the website in order to view media content. Some feed readers even have the ability to view information about the media content within the reader itself; however, support for this functionality is not universal and should not be relied upon.

Media RSS is compatible with any media content, so long as that content may be reached from a valid URL. This includes the following media types:

  • Flash
  • DIVX
  • QuickTime
  • Windows Media
  • Real Player
  • WAV
  • MP3
  • Podcasts

Other file types may also be added as media content. For example image files, PDF files, MS Word documents, and web pages.

Note: For true streaming, podcasts can be uploaded via OU Campus, and streaming software installed on the production server.