Track important changes with alerts and RSS

Alerts and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) are two services for staying updated with new information and content changes. Both alerts and RSS reduce the need for team members to search for new information.

Alerts and RSS can keep users updated on changes to a site, but how users receive the information differs for each service. Alerts send the information as e-mail messages, if the server is configured to send outgoing e-mail. RSS technology enables people to receive updates, known as RSS Feeds, that are collected with the feeds from other sites that they subscribe to, such as news and blog sites. There are several programs that read or collect RSS Feeds, including Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and Windows Internet Explorer 7.

Note: This article refers to an example SharePoint site created by Adventure Works, a fictitious company that manufactures bicycles, bicycle components, and bicycling accessories.

For example, the Adventure Works Marketing team uses both alerts and RSS Feeds. The group uses alerts to track announcements that are of interest to the group. They use RSS Feeds to accumulate new information that members can retrieve by using Web browsers.

Using alerts

In Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can sign up for alerts for the information that you to want to receive in your mailbox. If you have permission to manage the list or library, you can also set up alerts for other people on your team.

You can use alerts to track announcements, tasks, calendars, and other list items for your team members or yourself. For example, if you are a project manager and have permission to manage lists, you can send alerts to people who may be affected by changes to your project.


For example, the Adventure Works Marketing team uses an Announcements list in its workspace. The manager configures an alert to send e-mail to each team member when any of the following events occurs:

  • A change is made to an existing announcement.

  • A new announcement is added.

  • An announcement is deleted.

If you want to stay informed by using alerts but don't want to receive an alert for every change, you can customize which changes you want to be notified about, or you can receive alerts in a daily or weekly summary.

Using RSS Feeds

RSS technology enables readers to consolidate updates from different sites in one location, such as a browser page or an e-mail folder.

When people visit a list or document library, they can click a button to open a page where they can subscribe to the RSS Feed. The RSS Feed contains the title and some other properties of the recently updated document or list item. From the RSS Feed, people can click the title of the item to view the latest information.

RSS Feed

If multiple readers are available, people can choose which reader will receive the RSS Feeds.

For example, the Adventure Works Marketing team uses RSS readers to learn when updates have been made to calendars and document libraries.

Note: The behavior of RSS Feeds may differ, depending on your situation. Site administrators and owners can customize the RSS settings and frequency for site collections and sites.

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