Jane Kim, program manager for RSS in Internet Explorer, educates us about Internet Explorer 7's new RSS features which are already available in the first beta version which was released last week.
You may be asking what RSS is. It stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it’s a way for web site publishers to publish information from their sites. The publisher creates a specially-formatted file on their web site that contains the most recent items (news stories, blog posts, etc.) from the site. This regularly updated file is called a “feed.” With an RSS reader (or aggregator), a user can subscribe to many feeds and read the new entries all in one place, without having to visiting individual Web sites to find out what’s new.
IE 7 Beta 1 includes initial support for discovery and reading RSS feeds. In Beta 1, we’re calling them “web feeds.” We’re still actively exploring what is the right name to use for RSS feeds, so if you have any ideas or opinions, please post to comments.
With previous versions of IE, it’s pretty tough to know when a web page has a web feed available. With IE 7 Beta 1, the header of the web page is scanned to see if the publisher has associated a web feed with that page. If a web feed is found, the web feed button on the toolbar lights up. In addition, the user can configure a sound to play when a feed is found, and the same of list of feeds associated with the page can be found under the Tools menu.
Beta 1 of Windows Vista and IE 7 for XP currently supports the web feed formats RSS .9x, RSS 1.0, and RSS 2.0. As Sean mentioned, Atom 0.3 and Atom 1.0 support will come in a later release.
In a later post to the RSS Team blog, I’ll describe how publishers can set up their pages to make this button “light up.”
There are a few settings on the Content tab of the Internet Options control panel (accessible via Tools, Internet Options) that let you turn on and off feed discovery, and make a few tweaks to its behavior.
When you click on a link to a web feed in IE 6 today you’ll see a very colorful, but ultimately not very useful view of the feed. With IE 7, we detect when a page is really a web feed, and we display a view of the feed that’s much easier to read. You can even add the web feed as a favorite for quick access, right from the page.
That’s the quick tour through the RSS features of Beta 1. For this release, we were laying the groundwork for the additional features to come. There’ll be more in Beta 2, both in IE and with the RSS Platform we talked about at Gnomedex, so keep an eye on the RSS Team blog for updates.