Web Services/Feeds Introduction

One web site can become much more useful to a user if it has access to other useful sets of information to display. The challenge is to be able to control the flow of information being passed between server and client interfaces.  There are many different types of use cases for web services which have different sets of requirements. While RSS feeds are more of a precursor to the proper web service, they are a good example of a one way service where a client can display content, usually articles, from an external server’s database.

RSS feeds can increase the distribution of a publishers reach, as well as allow the reader to conveniently aggregate many sources of articles into one location such as Google Reader.  Content Management Systems (CMS) will either support RSS feeds naively or will have supported plugins to automatically create feeds for specific site categories, or an entire list.

How many articles the feed goes back, and how much of the article is sent via the feed depend on the settings the publisher wants to use.  Generally only the introduction of the articles are presented in the feed to encourage traffic to the publisher’s website from interested readers.  RSS feeds typically will have the last 10-20 posts in the feed, but readers will keep track of all of the posts since subscription.

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