Using RSS 101 – Screencast

I have a few 'non-technical' friends who think RSS (Really Simple Syndication) sounds like interesting idea but say it all sounds a little bit complicated.  So, I've created a 'how-to' screencast (Flash movie), 'Using RSS 101'.

The screencast shows how to download and set up an RSS reader (there are lots of choices out there, including browser-based readers, but I prefer Feeddemon), how to access the RSS content once in the RSS reader and how to subsrcibe to an RSS feed.

Hope you find this useful...Happy RSSing!

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Comments (52)
  1. Great stuff, man.

    Idea: How about an "ALEX WEEKLY" showing by screencast what you are up to in Redmond. Would be quality 9:23 to watch each week.

  2. Nice job, Alex – thanks for showcasing FeedDemon!

  3. Stephan says:

    Which Software did you use to record the screencast?

  4. Jerome says:

    Definitely an interesting and informative way to deliver a presentation.

    It sure endorses the adage that "A picture paints a thousand words" though in your case, its moving pictures. 🙂

    I used to use Sharpreader, but have not gotten down to installing it back after my reformatting.

    From the looks od the GUI, i think i will be going for Feeddemon then.

    Thanks for the info.

  5. Stephan and others who wonder about screencasting, try googling for "how to make a screencast". I will expand my blog-post with appropriate links to Jon Udell (who named it screencasting and whose heavy metal umlaut screencast inspired me to start using this method myself) as well as screencasts about how to make a screencast.

    Thanks for the RSS screencast, Alex! I will direct all those who ask me about RSS to it. I also look forward to future screencasts from you and others 🙂


    Raymond M. Kristiansen


  6. Alex Barnett says:

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Stephan, I used Camtasia Studio to record and output as .swf movie.

    Podcasting will be big. Screencasts may be even bigger. Thanks to Jon Udell for the inspiration!


  7. Troy Stein says:

    Very cool. I’ve been one of those fence sitters. Hearing and reading blogs the hard way, but never doing RSS. This helps a lot.


    I now know how to begin.


  8. Richard Reukema says:

    How about explaining trackbacks, permalinks? How do we use these? I’ve added comments to blogs, but I have not made it to cross linking my blog on

    Thanks for the intro!

  9. Legal Nightmare says:

    So, is that how long you expect your average Microsoft customer to spend reading the EULA?

    Please set a good example and show yourself reading the EULA thoroughly – don’t just agree to the terms and conditions blindly.

    Are there any free RSS readers are there?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Alex Barnett has created a ‘how-to’ screencast for beginners.

  11. Alex Barnett says:

    ‘Legal Nightmare’.

    Fair point re: EULA, however, a recording of me reading through a EULA would not make compelling viewing.

    Are there any free readers? Plenty, usually web-based…but take care to read the terms and conditions and privacy statement 😉


  12. Portia says:

    Guess what – the EULA doesn’t make compelling READING either!

    Legal Nightmare, try Mozilla Thunderbird, the built in readers are excellent, and it’s free as in price and free as in freedom – no soul selling involved. You might want to try Firefox if you want RSS integrated into your browser.

  13. Alex Barnett says:

    Portia…Just tried it…

    I had to agree to a licence (after taking 10 minutes to download a 5mb app…the servers are seems v.slow). My own preference is that I don’t want an email client to do my RSS reading. If I did, I would use Newsgator, which integrates into Outlook.


  14. Denton says:

    What’s the difference between NNTP and RSS other than NNTP is distributed, far less server pressure? We’re even seeing threaded RSS feeds now.

    It seems to me that just as news reading goes naturally with an email client, so does feed reading. After all, the format is the same. If fact my only trouble with Opera (despite its excellence as a browser and mail client) is its sloppy RSS support, but that should be repressed in V8.

  15. Amit Rao says:


    Although I agree RSS feeds should fit snugly into an email client, readers such as FeedDemon do have some nice features ‘just right’ for feeds:

    – good default list of feeds

    – good default list of categories

    – integration with delicious, flickr, bloglines

    I think search/filtering is the killer feature missing from such apps. I love Thunderbird’s Saved Searches instead of using folders, but it could go so much further. I couldn’t use an email client without good category (and subcategory!) management as an RSS reader.

    For example, when I add a new feed, Bayesianly suggest a category for me instead of always starting at the top alphabetically. This saves valuable minutes for those of us with tens of thousands of feeds – which is, after all, the main point of RSS.

    Bayesian filtering can be so so so useful in suggesting defaults, instead of boring applications like spam graylisting. I think it should become a vital part of UI design.

    Also, the way Alex had to copy the feed URL was clunky, even if FeedDemon does automatically look at the clipboard. All decent web browsers have RSS buttons but unfortunately, they only work with themselves. It would be fantastic if clicking the RSS button in Firefox added the feed to a ‘default RSS application’ rather than necessarily itself.

    I’m also concerned at how fast RSS is taking off. HTML rendering has caused huge problems for email and NNTP. I’d love to have some more security analysis of RSS.

  16. Lawyers in our LexBlog community are always asking how do I learn to use RSS. Though it’s an easy to use tool, many think it’s too techie for them. Well, here’s the answer. Alex Barnett has created a ‘how-to’ screencast (Flash…

  17. Anonymous says:

    …what’s even neater is the way Alex Barnett introduces the basics of RSS as a screencast in Using RSS 101, so turn the sound up and enjoy.

  18. Anonymous says:

    A very interesting example, and the one that encoraged me to write about screencasting is this example from Alex Barnett “Using RSS 101” (how to use feeddemon and RSS).

    Mr. Barnett used the software Camtasia [free trial download available] to create this screencast.

    Screencasting might be used as a teaching tool which to develop quick how-to’s, demonstrations on up to full scale presentations. I know this kind of software has been around a while but what intrigues me the most about this example is the inclusion of audio. I think this personalizes the experience for your user.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Automatic Updates Made Easy

  20. My reader has indicated that what I am writing about must be good because it makes no sense. I figure it makes no sense because I am making a number of assumptions of prior knowledge about my topics that my…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Lately I’ve been giving a number of seminars on RSS, and how it represents a revolutionary way we think about conducting research on the Internet (I’ll also be talking about it at ABA TECHSHOW). I also notice a lot of glazed-over expressions once I’m done talking about subscribing to RSS feeds…

  22. Great tutorial!

    Small note to introduce you to Lektora. Much simpler than FeedDemon and it is available on all platforms.

  23. Link: Using RSS 101 – Screencast. Fantastic RSS demo using FeedDemon, which is the rss reader I use.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Alex Barnett demonstrates RSS 101 with a nifty screencast (via Steve Rubel). Anything that makes this process easier is good.

    If both Udell and Barnett are using Camtasia Studio ($299.00), it’s clearly a solid tool for the job. Mild concern for me is that it’s Windows-only. I’m a satisfied user of SnagIt (also from TechSmith) on that platform, but… what’s the Mac equivalent, I wonder? Well, Screenography ($40.00) doesn’t seem to accept voiceover directly. Udell mentions Snapz Pro X ($70.00), but that program, too, lacks voiceover. Not that I have a microphone, but maybe I could my iSight as a microphone for this process. Love to hear any suggestions.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Alex Barnett of Microsoft has created a screencast tutorial for how to set up and use an RSS feed reader. If you’ve been curious about how RSS works and why it’s the hot new way to deliver content, check out this tutorial. I use Blog Express as my RSS Reader, but am considering changing …

  26. Anonymous says:

    Non usate ancora gli RSS? Non sapete come fare? Ecco allora la guida che fa per voi. Sedetevi guardate il video e ascoltate la spiegazione. Utile.

  27. Betty says:

    That’s very helpful, great use of the screencast.Thanks

  28. Britt says:

    Do you have any code to pull XML pages using ASP to include "news" / "content" onto your own website?

    Is there a standard format for RSS ? It looks to all be different from just browsing around.


  29. MSDNArchive says:

    Hi Britt…not using anything to dynamically generate link on my left hand nav, if that’s what you meant?



  30. Jacob Nielsen’s written up a look-back article on the 10th anniversary of his widely read Alertbox column…

  31. Pez says:

    Good intro. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

  32. Seattle Times quotes Scott Gatz, the senior director for personalization products at Yahoo in reaction…

  33. Began using RSS as you describe in the original post and all was great. But in the past few months most of the pages using this have been knocked out of google. Is it a better and stronger duplicate content filter or something else?

  34. worthyashs says:

    Sorry mate, but what’s the point of people who generally use search engines to find the info they want from using rss? It’s fantastic if your sorting out data for an app or site, but really – is bookmarking really that much of a pain? I think rss should be used for the reason it was created – to get more info out there for people to see, not so someone can make money out of an application that delivers limited information to an end user.

  35. Steve Burghaust says:

    i want to display an rss feed on my flash website … does anyone know of a free tutorial i can use to teach myself how to do this? i basically want an rss feed from the bbc website to scroll along the bottom of my site.


  36. PJ Conley says:

    alex – great stuff. thank you! would you be interested, or do you know anyone that might be interested in hosting a syndicated ‘flash video’ show at Flash Stance

    i believe i’m on to something big with this and am looking for high quality, family-friendly show hosts.

    please let me know. also, please refer anyone you think might be interested to check out the site and contact me.


    pj conley

  37. MSDNArchive says:

    PJ, If I know know of anyone, I’ll let them know. Alex.

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  39. Claire Ulrich has created a French voiceover version (.avi) of the my RSS 101 screencast. Bon apetit….

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  42. catepol says:

    Cosa succede all’educazione, ai procesis di apprendimento, alla condivisione della conoscenza quando si combinano insieme learning objects, MUDs, RSS, podcasting, tagging, social networking, social media, effetti del network, AJAX, REST, web APIs, int

  43. I have a few ‘non-technical’ friends who think RSS (Really Simple Syndication) sounds like interesting idea but say it all sounds a little bit complicated. So, I’ve created a ‘how-to’ screencast (Flash movie), ‘Using RSS 101’ . The screencast shows ho

  44. Ultram. Ultram er. Ultram addiction.

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