InfoSpace officials this week demonstrated the new features of the toolbar that support the XML feeds, both in Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and Atom formats, during an interview at Jupitermedias Search Engine Strategies 2004 conference here. InfoSpaces toolbar will let users add the XML feeds to the toolbars ticker, alongside scrolling news headlines and top search terms, said Leslie Grandy, InfoSpace vice president of product management.
Grandy said the time was right to introduce consumers to RSS and Atom because mainstream Web publishers have begun to add the feeds to their sites. InfoSpaces move also follows Yahoo Inc.s beta release in January of an RSS aggregator on its My Yahoo personalized pages and its decision last month to include RSS feeds in its revamped search results.
The syndication efforts by established Internet players point to the increasing need to simplify how readers can access the XML feeds. Most Web publishers currently provide a direct link to the raw XML code, but few provide information on how to actually subscribe to and read the feeds through the various RSS readers.
Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., quietly launched last month a program to address the issue for Web publishers. It lets them include an "Add to My Yahoo" button or icon on their Web pages that, when clicked, will add their RSS or Atom feeds into a users My Yahoo page, said Scott Gatz, a senior director or personalization products at Yahoo.
Gatz said that while theres "not a huge groundswell for RSS as a technology" among My Yahoo users, there is demand to better aggregate the range of information on the Web, both from major publishers and from special-interest areas. He even knows of a local Cub Scout pack that uses an RSS feed to stay updated.
"We want to get out there and say that this is an important way for people to connect," Gatz said. "Were looking to really aggregate the content that matters to folks, no matter how big or small that content is."
InfoSpace, likewise, is planning features in its toolbar release to simplify the process for subscribing to XML feeds. A setup feature called "Search Page" will scan an open Web page for RSS or Atom feeds, and then let a user decide whether to add them to the toolbar.
"To have a feature that sniffs the page to find the feed for you means you dont have to do anything but point and click," Grandy said.
In future releases, InfoSpace is working on making the scanning for RSS and Atom feeds completely automatic when a user reaches a new Web page.
InfoSpace, of Bellevue, Wash., has it toolbar available both for its namesake site as well as for its other search properties—Dogpile, MetaCrawler and WebCrawler. InfoSpaces search sites provide meta-search across multiple Web search engines, such as Google Inc., Ask Jeeves Inc.s Teoma engine and Yahoo.
Along with the support for XML syndication feeds, InfoSpace later in the spring plans to expand its search toolbars co-branding program for third parties. InfoSpace already works with other Web sites, such as ABCNews and Verizon, to use its toolbar under their brand but will offer the option more broadly and with more customization options, Grandy said.
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