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The History Files

Help with RSS


Question: I don't have an installed RSS reader. Can I still see the feed?

Answer: Yes! Even if you don't have an RSS reader installed or available, the RSS feed has been formatted so that the major browsers will still be able to display it (including smartphone browsers), although you won't get notifications about new posts.

Don't worry, making the step up to a more advanced reader is easy. Firstly, we can take a look at some basics, but if you're in a hurry or this isn't your first rodeo, you can jump ahead.

Get me to the important stuff! >>

 

What is an RSS feed?

A feed, also known as RSS feed, XML feed, syndicated content, or web feed, is essentially focussed, frequently-updated content which is published by websites such as the History Files.

Although RSS feeds have been deprecated of late in some areas, they can still be used and are still popular with a great many web users.

RSS feeds are typically used for news and blog sites, but they can also be used for distributing other types of digital content, including pictures, audio, or video. In the case of the History Files, this RSS feed contains an entry for each of the recent posts, updates, or major publications across the site and its microsites.

More generally, feeds can also be used to deliver audio content (usually in MP3 format) which you can listen to on your computer or MP3 player. This is referred to as podcasting.

 

Which websites offer an RSS feed?

When you first view a website your browser will search for a feed.

If there is a feed available and an appropriate reader is installed on your browser (readers are covered in more detail below), your browser will show you.

Firefox has recently depreciated RSS feeds, but if you have a reader installed then it will show you the reader icon, possibly like this (inside the orange circle, although many variations of icon are available):

Sample Firefox url bar and RSS icon

An RSS reader which has been installed as a Google Chrome extension may look like this (circled, although again many versions and variations are available):

Sample Google Chrome url bar and RSS icon

Other variables in this process can include the 'Feeds' button (if your browser has one) changing colour. At the last time of checking it still did this in Internet Explorer (MS Edge has not been tested as part of this process).

Many sites use the orange RSS icon shown here, but some use a picture with 'XML' on it, while a few others use an orange or blue icon, or simply a text link. No one said it would be straightforward!

Not enough variation? A sound may also play in some versions of Internet Explorer.

Some browsers automatically check for feeds when you visit a website. At least until recently, these browsers included Firefox, Opera, and Safari (although again, sometimes only with the appropriate extension installed). The RSS or XML icon is displayed when a feed is discovered. This could make the process of subscribing to feeds more easy. For more details, please check the relevant websites.

The History Files has its own feed, naturally. You will be able to find the RSS link for this feed via any one of the options which have been discussed above.

Features / Lists




RSS icon on The History Files index page
Finding the RSS Feeds button on a History Files index page, although this will be the pure XML feed without the benefit of a reader to filter and format it - you must have a reader installed to be able to gain the full benefit of an RSS feed (see below)


As of 2022 though, there's a much easier way of finding the RSS feed button. It has been placed in the top navigation bar of every single page across the site:

The History Files top navigation bar in 2022

The RSS feed button is on the left. The link to this very help page is the magnifying glass on the right.

Various screen displays and screen sizes may result in a slightly different layout for this navigation bar, but the information and links remain the same.

 

How does a feed differ from a website?

A feed can have the same content as a web page, but it is often formatted differently.

When you subscribe, your browser will automatically check the website and download new content so that you can see what has been added since you last visited the feed.

 

Getting automatically updated content

You can receive content automatically by subscribing to a web feed, or rss feed.

When you subscribe to a web feed, you can often set the interval at which your browser will check the website for updates (different readers may offer different options). Once you have set an interval, your browser will automatically download the most up-to-date web feed list.

 

Adding an all-important RSS reader to your browser

Having covered (or skipped) all of the essential details, now you really do want to install that vital RSS reader in your browser.

Please note that all of the links in this section are external, to sites which are not controlled by the History Files. Therefore no guarantee can be given regarding their availability or reliability. Having said that, they have been tested and verified at least once.

 

For Google Chrome users, this has been tested by the History Files and it provides a decent reader (other options and installations are available if you have a preferred option).

However, it works independent of the RSS link in the History Files top navigation bar. Clicking on the RSS link even after installation will still produce only the more basic RSS feed with in-house formatting and no notifications. You will have to go to the reader directly.

On the plus side it will provide pop-up desktop notifications whenever something new is found in the feed, so you can just click on these instead to access new material:

Google: Chrome RSS Feed Reader (works independently of the HF RSS icon)

 

The Firefox extension, 'Want my RSS' is a favourite with the History Files, and comes highly recommended for all Mozilla/Firefox users:

Firefox: Want my RSS

Follow the installation instructions carefully, and then check back with the History Files site to find and view the RSS feed.

Tap or click here:
RSS subscribe button
You will automatically be notified about fresh posts.

With this one, clicking on the RSS link in the History Files top navigation bar will (almost always) take you straight to the RSS feed. So you'll have the triple option of using the HF link, or the feed's own access option in the url bar, or receiving notifications so that you can see see new material.

 

Please supply your own RSS reader recommendations for these browsers and any others so that this section can become fully comprehensive.

That's it. You're done!