RSS(Really Simple Syndication) is becoming a popular method to relay web site newsfeeds easily and quickly to a site. RSS is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. Effectively it is a distributable "What's New" for a site.

Various groups of OUCS now use this format to send content to our web pages such as:
  • News of events and conferences
  • Upcoming courses
  • Network upgrades or problems
  • WebLearn information

All of the OUCS RSS feeds are available to our users. It is possible to subscribe to a single OUCS RSS feed or to them all.

This document will outline how to subscribe to an RSS feed using an 'RSS aware' browser, Mozilla Firefox.

1. Subscribing to RSS feeds using Mozilla Firefox.

Mozilla Firefox is an excellent web browser which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. To download a suitable browser for your chosen platform, go to the Mozilla web site.

Firefox comes with a built-in RSS reader, which is suitable for most. RSS comes in many flavours, including RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom. Mozilla Firefox supports them all. Alternatively, there are many RSS browser extensions available to download from the Mozilla web site if required. Firefox uses a technology called 'Live Bookmarks' that lets you view RSS news and blog headlines in the bookmarks toolbar or bookmarks menu. This enables you to see the latest headlines from any RSS enabled site and to go to the article in question simply by clicking on the headline.

There are two methods for creating a Live Bookmark.

Method 1
  • Method 1 is the easiest method to use. It can be used if you see the icon
    RSS icon in firefox
    at the right end of the Location textbox or in the bottom right corner of the browser.
  • Clicking on the icon will reveal the names of the different feeds available on that page.
    List of available feeds
    Figure 1. List of available feeds
  • Selecting an RSS feed will bring up the Add Bookmark dialog.

    Add Bookmarks dialog box
    Figure 2. Add bookmark dialog box
  • Select Add and a bookmark to the newsfeed will be included in your bookmarks.
Method 2
  • Method 2 can be used if you see
    RSS orange icon
    RSS blue icon
    on a web page.
  • Right click on the icon and select Copy Link Location. This will copy the URL of the link to the newsfeed to the clipboard.
  • From the Bookmarks menu, select Manage Bookmarks.
  • A new window entitled Bookmarks Manager will appear.
  • From its File menu, select New Live Bookmark.
  • A new window entitled Properties for New Live Bookmark will appear.
  • In the Name textbox, replace the text New Live Bookmark by some appropriate text indicating the topic of the newsfeed.
  • Click in the textbox and press Ctrl/V so that the URL is pasted into the textbox.
  • The Description can be left empty.
  • Select OK and a bookmark to the newsfeed will be included in your bookmarks.
  • Close the Bookmarks Manager window.
Many people find it especially convenient to save Live Bookmarks in their Bookmarks Toolbar folder found inside the bookmarks listing.

RSS icon on browser toolbar
Figure 3. RSS feed on browser toolbar

2. Subscribing to RSS feeds using Thunderbird email client

RSS feeds can be viewed in an 'RSS aware' email programme such as Mozilla Thunderbird. This client is available for a number of different platforms; Windows, Mac and Linux.

Setting up Thunderbird

  • Open the Account Settings dialog box
    Account Settings
    Figure 4. Account Settings dialog box

    and select Add Account

    Select Add account button
    Figure 5. Account Settings Screen
  • From the New Account box select RSS News and Blogs Click Next

    New Account - select RSS news and blogs
    Figure 6. New Account Screen
  • Give the account an identifiable name and click Next

    Give the account a name
    Figure 7. Account Name Screen
  • Verify that the settings are correct and click Finish

    Confirm your settings
    Figure 8. Verify Information screen
  • A new account will appear in your accounts listings.
  • Select the name of the new account to open the settings page.

    Figure 9. Managing your RSS feeds
  • Click on Manage Subscriptions to open the RSS subscriptions box.

    RSS subscriptions
    Figure 10. RSS subscriptions
  • Next select Add
  • The News Feed Properties box appears. Type in the url of the newsfeed e.g. OUCS courses is:

    input the url of the feed
    Figure 11. News Feed Properties
  • Click on OK. The feed will then be verified before appearing in the newsfeed list.

    News feed list
    Figure 12. News feed list
  • Click OK to close the list.

Viewing your feeds

  • Click the + sign next to the name of your RSS folder to open the list of feeds you are subscribed to.
  • Select one by clicking on the name.
  • A list of the most recent news items from that feed will then appear.

    News item
    Figure 13. News Item
  • Clicking the news item will open the feed.

Deleting unwanted feeds

  • Open the Manage Subscriptions page and click on the name of the feed.
  • Select either the Edit button to alter the feed url, or press the Delete button to remove the feed from your list.

    Manage Subscriptions
    Figure 14. Manage Subscriptions screen
  • Close the RSS subscriptions page by pressing OK.
  • The name of the old newsfeed and any downloaded content will still be on your machine.
  • To remove them from your email package, right click on the name of the folder and select Delete Folder from the options list.