What is RSS and how can I integrate it with other applications?

What is RSS and how can I integrate it with other applications?


RSS is the single most important tool to adopt in your daily life. If you’re on the Internet, RSS tidies up your online reading and really helps you stay on top of the news. All thanks to excellent automation and powerful features, which turn RSS readers into real productivity tools in their own right.

Learn how to integrate them with other applications and you are looking for a perfectly streamlined workflow.

I don’t want to assume that you know the ins and outs of RSS, so we’ll cover the basics.

What is RSS?

For the uninitiated, RSS doesn’t ring a bell and that’s no surprise. It is a piece of code hidden in the source code of a website. The abbreviation stands for “Rich Text Summary” or “Real Simple Syndication” depending on what you really prefer. Either way, it’s the same protocol as allows content syndication news services and blogs through an RSS reader. This is achieved through an RSS feed, which is written to an XML file and updates whenever a new post is posted to a site.

Isn’t that old?

Absolutely. RSS is as old as the Internet itself. The roots of what RSS is about existed even as the World Wide Web was taking shape. It was there when the great blogging boom happened, and it can be found in just about any part of the internet that we know and love today. Newsletters, YouTube channels and Twitter feeds all owe their rise and ubiquity to RSS as a technological element.

Its status as a living piece of software history doesn’t mean RSS is fossilized. On the contrary, it continues to evolve and find new ways to be useful.

How does RSS work?

RSS makes it easy to read content across multiple sources (and nowadays multiple platforms and media types) because you subscribe to as many feeds as you want and browse the latest headlines in your RSS reader. Subscriptions were easier when RSS was at its peak. Who could miss the orange power buttons? Now it is a little harder to find RSS feeds and sometimes you even have to check if there is an RSS feed in the first place.

Advanced RSS readers like Inoreader present users with built-in search. If a site has an RSS feed and it has been indexed by Inoreader, you will immediately see it and subscribe to your dashboard. In these cases there is no RSS feed on the site, it is time to look to other tools to generate one.

Save articles easier than ever. But above all, integrate your RSS!

RSS readers have perfected the art of syndicating content from multiple sources into one feed – that in itself is pretty impressive and the reason everyone should already be implementing RSS in their personal and professional lives. The problem starts when it comes to saving articles after you’ve read them. Filtration, tags, and folders are helpful as long as you haven’t read the content.

Often what happens when you open and read an article is that it disappears into the ether never to be heard again. Of course, not all RSS readers are like this, but do you really need to look for a specific RSS reader when there is an easier way to bookmark articles – smart integration!

RSS readers have developed as fairly flexible tools. Depending on what you want, you can associate your player with almost any available service.

Pocket integration

Poached emerged as the next step in the evolution of bookmarks. It’s a free service that records all kinds of content from anywhere on the internet – pictures, videos, news, and articles. While normal bookmarks remain on your browser, Pocket follows you as a mobile app on any of your devices as well as a browser extension. Consolidate what’s important to you, no matter what device you use!

That’s why Pocket associates so easily with RSS readers. Integration with Pocket (as with many other services) can be done via IFTTT or Zapier, which are available for general RSS use or even for specific RSS readers. With a trigger event, you can save important articles from your RSS dashboard to your Pocket account. Inoreader avoids this process altogether as it has a built-in way to connect the two via preferences.

Integration of Google Drive and Dropbox

We can’t talk about integration without addressing the essential tools of offices around the world. Google Drive and Dropbox make team projects meaningful and keep work in order, so it makes sense that all important articles, posts, and videos should be backed up along with all other documents and files. With the right combination of triggers and if / then actions, you can instantly save articles as text or image files to Dropbox or Google Drive. Users have the option to designate a specific folder and play around with other settings.

Evernote and OneNote integration

Zapier or IFTTT also make another appearance here. Evernote and A note share DNA along with the humble Pocket, but rather than articles, posts, and images (Pocket is a more polished version of bookmarks), these two services play an important role in the workflow. Especially if you are part of a team working on a collaborative project, the exchange of information becomes integral. Therefore, you should have a quick way to quickly share relevant articles from your RSS and also know when your colleagues have done the same. There are ways to receive newly created notes on either service as RSS messages.

With trigger actions on Zapier or IFTTT, you can save articles as new notes accessible to everyone on your team based on your sharing settings. Add another level by grouping all new messages into a daily summary before uploading them completely. This way you have a clearer timeline of when you read something.

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