RSS Feeds and OPML Files and BlogBridge, Oh My…

I’m sure there are a few of you out there who want to know more about what RSS Feeds and OPML Files are and how to use them more efficiently. I am not an expert, but I will try to dummy it down and explain it the best I can.

RSS Reader (aka a News Aggregator): Manages subscriptions and allows easy viewing of RSS Feeds and new posts to your favorite sites. Google Reader, Bloglines, etc.
RSS Feed (aka Really Simple Syndication): Can be published in a few different formats, but is pretty much just the content of your post. People can have their Reader subscribe to your Feed(s) and save time by seeing when you have a new post. Sign up with FeedBurner and see here for tips on how to optimize your Feed for publication and why it’s imperative that the world stop providing partial feeds.
OPML File (aka Outline Processor Markup Language): An XML-based “list” of information. Most commonly used by Readers as a way to back up lists, transfer lists and share lists of sites that they view on a regular basis.

If you are curious to find out if you even if you have a Feed for your blog, type your blog URL into FeedBurner and if it spits out a list of your found Feeds, then you might as well sign up and burn your feed through them. Alternatively, your browser will display an RSS icon RSS Logo somewhere if you have a feed.

Want to know if you are publishing full or partial feeds? Include your blog into your own RSS Reader. Need to get started and not sure which Reader to go with? Here’s a Directory of the Top RSS Readers.

Have you been publishing partial feeds and have recently realized the error of your ways? Want to change your Feed to full, right now without further ado? You can go through your blogs Admin area to where the publishing section is and change it from partial or summary feed to full.

And Now – BlogBridge:
I recently saw a post from D’Arcy Norman showcasing his screencast of BlogBridge and how he uses it to siphon through his 400+ reads. If you have 16 spare minutes, check it out because it totally give you a good idea of what to do with all this RSS stuff. Suffice it to say, I downloaded it just to try it out. Yes, I had almost decided that using Google Reader and Bloglines and Sage was a bit too much to have to import/export/transfer all the OPML files. BlogBridge is a separate application, rather than a Web Based Reader so I was a bit hesitant at first. I like to have everything handy, in my browser because I’m OCD that way. But, after using it for a week or so, I’ve decided that’s it not such a bad thing to have my browser and my Reader open at the same time (easier on the memory of your browser – haven’t hung in mid air or had to restart the browser once). I really like BB and have decided it is already superior to everything else I have tried so far, even if it is still a bit new in development.

What I need from an RSS Reader:

  • The ability to organize, rename and filter the (so far) 260+ Feeds that I subscribe too.
  • The ability to import/export OPML Files and publish particular folders of my OPML to smaller centrally located OPML Files in order to share them.
  • The ability to blog about a post from the Reader.
  • The ability to filter through posts when I only have 5 minutes to read.
  • The ability to set aside posts for further examination at another time.
  • The ability to subscribe to new feeds without too much trouble.

So far, BlogBridge has these good points. Like I said, it’s still fairly new and they have weekly builds of the application, so they are still adding new features every week. One feature that I would like to see enhanced, so far, is a “make link” button in the Post to Blog function. Also, for Firefox to recognize it as a Reader. (The Blog to Post was only added in the recent weekly build, so by the time it’s in the stable release, maybe it will be in there. There’s also a really easy way to get around the subscription issue – simply right-click on the feed link and copy, then in BlogBridge, choose “subscribe to feed” and it’s already pasted there for you.)

Bloglines went down ALL THE TIME. Google Reader had poor management skills (couldn’t rename Feeds in their clip, couldn’t sort through Feeds to edit them). Sage was a bit too boring for me, but it wasn’t web-based like Google Reader and Bloglines is and was therefore a bit more dependable.

But ultimately, the thing that hooked me with BlogBridge is the Smart Feeds. Watch that Screencast of D’Arcy’s for more info, but basically, I have set up, SO FAR, a SmartFeed that shows all my Pinned News Stories, Pinned Music Blog Posts, Newest Posts, Newest News Articles, Newest Music Posts. I also have the five minute Catch-All SmartFeed and the 20 minute Catch-All SmartFeed. Then, I can individually click on a Feed in whatever folder and see the last 30 posts from them.

Hope you found this information useful. I am going to dump my links list from Bloglines and my little Google Reader from my sidebar in the next few days. I have my OPML Files and lists displaying back on the link love page. Please enjoy.

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  1. Thanks for the info! That was really helpful, I don’t know much about all the RSS stuff and have been curious. It may help me move on to the next level of blogging.

  2. Wow. Seriously. Great links. Always looking for ways to organise and optimise my RSS feeds.

  3. I like your “Daily Reads via Google Reader”. I come here to see what’s new! 🙂 Maybe I should just learn how to do it myself huh? 🙂 Thanks for the tips…they are very useful.

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