What Is the Magic That Makes RSS Possible?

Whether you are trying to set up WordPress RSS feeds, or get an online RSS feed reader to work for you, you have the RSS feed XML to thank for getting RSS feeds at all. A lot of what goes on over the internet is a mystery to people. They just accept and embrace what the internet can do for them, and leave all of the coding and behind-the-scenes work to the little elves in the internet tubes.

But has it ever dawned on you to stop and think about what it takes to do some seemingly simple procedure on the internet? Going back to the RSS example, think about how easy it is for you to subscribe to an RSS feed. With the simple click of a button you get constant access to your favorite sites and their regular updates.

Yet when you click that subscribe button, you actually get RSS feed XML code zipped over to your reader. When you add RSS feed XML to your subscription list, it reads the site-specific coding and does the rest of the work for you. That is the beauty of that little subscribe button, is that it has all of the information necessary, in a convenient little package.

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, and it defines the set of rules for encoding documents. In this case, the document is the content of the website. It produces it in a format that is readable both to humans and computers. Meaning that your computer reads all of the data and information first, and then translates it into a clear, understandable manner for you.

The design specifications for XML are to emphasize usability, generality, and simplicity over the internet. While it was initially designed for the focus of documents, it is very regularly used for representations of arbitrary data structures, such as in web services.

RSS is not the only document format to take advantage of what XML has to offer, though. There have been hundreds of others developed, such as Atom, SOAP, and XHTML. XML is even used by such office productivity tools as Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org.

Not only do you get to enjoy RSS with XML, but anything that you use in the office takes advantage of its simple coding as well. So the next time you boot up your computer, before you go about your business, imagine all of the coding that is zipping around in there, making it possible.