When Google announced that it was going to shut down its popular Google Reader in July 2013 some said that it would be the death of RSS. However 2 years on RSS is still pretty popular and it still serves a purpose in the modern web.
Why I Use RSS
For me and many others RSS is a fantastic way to catch up with all the latest news and posts from your favourite blogs or websites. For several years I clicked on the subscribe via email banners and it got to a point where I was receiving more email than I could manage. The weekly/fortnightly newsletters were fine but then some authors (not all) were using subscription emails to send stuff that I didn’t want to receive on top of automatic emails from online stores after the purchase of 1 item, this was getting too much. I started hitting the unsubscribe button on the bottom of emails and have managed to get my emails down to a manageable limit.
This is where RSS comes in handy for me as I already subscribed to the news feeds, along with the newsletter subscriptions, so I was receiving the same content twice. If I come across a blog that interests me then I will always prefer to subscribe via RSS. If the blog didn’t have a RSS feed then I wouldn’t be tempted to click on the email newsletters.
Death of Google Reader – Enter Feedly
Google Reader may now be a thing of the past but soon after Google planned to drop it I heard about Feedly. Feedly, previously called Feeddo, had been around since 2008 offered a migration process for all Google Reader users which made the transition smoother. Feedly offered its cloud service for free that year but also has paid upgrades. If you are not a fan of Feedly there are plenty of alternatives like Digg Reader, Bloglovin which are available online and through a range of devices or you like a good old-fashioned desktop reader then consider the open source RSSOwl or QuiteRSS.
Social Media & Website Integration
Twitter and Facebook have both dropped support for RSS which prevents you accessing your timeline in your favourite feed reader. Whether or not this was down to monetary gain or simply moving with the times, favouring JSON format and mandatory authentication within its API. For accessing your Twitter and Facebook posts to integrate in your website you can use the widgets provided by Twitter and Facebook. Accessing RSS feeds to display from one blog to another is still very much alive as one of my posts, from back in 2012, still is very popular. For normal, non WordPress websites you can use SimplePie.
RSS is not everybody’s cup of tea but I find RSS better to read my favourite blogs than email newsletters and whether you are new to it, a long time user, a reader of news or a website/blog owner it still serves a purpose in the modern web and will do for some time. Long live RSS!