Feeds in IBM Lotus Notes 8.5

(For more resources on IBM, see here.)

Adding feeds

A web feed is also known as RSS Feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and provides people with frequently updated content from websites. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Typically, feeds provide people with a summary of any recently added information or content such as a news headlines or blog entries to a website.

Most often there are several sites that we want to subscribe to and there are tools that allow us to subscribe to these websites and have those feeds come into one place. Such a tool or software is known as a feed reader or aggregator.

Many companies including news-related sites, blog sites, and many government and corporate sites distribute their content as web feeds. To know if a website is enabled for feed subscriptions, look for the feeds icon. The examples below can be placed anywhere on the website, however, typically we will see them placed somewhere on the first page.

Often we can select what we want to subscribe to—for example, if it is a blog website, then we may be able to subscribe to the content or the comments that people make; on the other hand, if it is a news website, then we can select if we want content on sports or business. When we enable our subscription, we select how often we want to be updated and how long we want to keep the information. We will look into this in more detail further on in the article.

Feeds sidebar panel

Feeds can be accessed and managed from within the Lotus Notes sidebar(Details about sidebar is out of the scope of this article).The following is a screenshot of the Lotus Notes client with the Feeds sidebar expanded:

If we can't see the Feeds sidebar panel, select View | Right Sidebar Panel and select Feeds. The Feeds panel can be collapsed by clicking click on Feeds in the sidebar. If we click on another panel in the sidebar such as the Day-At-A-Glance, then Feeds will close and we will see Day-At-A-Glance panel expanded in the sidebar. If we want to display our feeds separately, we can select Open in New Window when we right-click the Feeds option in the panel.

Indentifying feed-enabled websites

First, we need to identify if the website we are visiting has enabled syndication of its content (the fancy way of saying you can subscribe to it). We can tell if a website or blog syndicates its content by the feed icons displayed on the site, usually on the front page.

We may also see the feed icon in the navigation toolbar of our browser. The following is an example of a web blog by Ed Brill, who is the Director of Product Management at IBM Lotus Software:

The following is an example of a news website, USA Today:

Both of these websites allow us to subscribe using feeds.

Alternatively, on the USA Today website, we also see an area at the bottom of the front page that gives choices for subscriptions—the RSS option is circled in red.

Once we have identified a website that is RSS enabled, there are a number of ways to add it to our Lotus Notes feed reader.

Adding feeds to Lotus Notes

Let's use the USA Today website as an example. There are a three different ways we can add feeds to Lotus Notes.

  1. Click on the RSS icon which, in the case of USA Today, is available on the first page of their website.
  2. Add the feed using any of the following techniques:
    • Drag the RSS icon to the area where feeds are listed in our Feeds sidebar panel (make sure you hold your left mouse button down). This will open the Add New Subscription dialog box in Lotus Notes.

    • Rather than dragging the RSS icon, this time click on it. This will take us to another web page. Select the URL on that web page and copy it to the clip board. Then go to Lotus Notes and select the Subscribe to Feed button in the Feeds sidebar panel. The Add New Subscription dialog box will now appear. Paste the URL into the space provided and then click the Go button.

  3. We can select our preferred options from within the Add New Subscription dialog box such as:
    • Which feeds we want to subscribe to if it's a multiple feed name—for example, the selected feed name in the following screenshot is Top Headlines, which I would change to USA Today Top Headlines.
    • How often to check for updates.
    • How long to keep entries.

  4. Once we have selected all our choices, click the OK button. This will close the Add New Subscription dialog box and add that feed to the Feeds sidebar panel.

Once we have added a subscription, we are given a choice as to how often we want the feeds to be updated and how long to keep entries for.

The choices available in the Check for Updates drop-down list are:

  • Every minute
  • Every 10 or 30 minutes
  • Every hour (default)
  • Every 2, 4 or 8 hours
  • Every day
  • Once a week
  • Manual (only check for updates manually)

The choices for Keep entries for are:

  • 1 day
  • 1 week (default)
  • 2 weeks
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • Forever (only delete entries manually)

(For more resources on IBM, see here.)

Reading feeds

To read our feeds, we need to follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure the feeds sidebar panel is open; if it is not, click on Feeds in the sidebar panel to expand.

  2. Beside each feed name, we will see a + (plus) icon. Click on the + icon to expand and see the headlines. We will also see a number within brackets, representing the number of unread feeds. In the following screenshot, I have read all the Lotus Notes 8.x Tips and hence the number within brackets is 0.

  3. Click on a headline that we would like to read; in the following screenshot, I have selected Swiss voters projected to ban new mosque minarets from the USA Today Top Headlines feeds.

  4. Once we click on the headline, a dialog box will appear with a short summary of the headline, with an Open button that we can click to open the headline on the website where it was derived.

Managing feeds

Once we have subscribed to some feeds, we may want to edit the feed subscription or we may want to unsubscribe. This can be achieved by right-clicking on the feed name or the headline and selecting one of the displayed options.

We can also select how the feeds should be displayed in the Feeds sidebar panel

  1. Click on the Settings button in the feeds sidebar panel.

  2. We can select whether we wish to show all feeds or just one of the feeds. We also have the option to select whether we want to show feeds as a list, grouped, or managed fields. When we group feeds, it lists all the feeds under a heading and typically the heading is the website we are subscribing to. We need to expand the heading to see the feeds. Next to the heading title, we will be shown a number indicating how many feeds are unread, which is a handy feature. When we show our feeds as a list, the feeds are listed in date order.

The Manage Feeds option allows us to select a particular feed and choose whether to unsubscribe, edit the subscription, refresh the feed which will show any new feeds that are available, delete offline content (if there is any), and copy as link, which creates a URL of the feed or headline that we can paste into an e-mail or a browser.


In this article, we gained an understanding of the usefulness and the value of feeds. When we do e-mail subscriptions, we obviously have to give our e-mail address. The benefit of subscribing to web feeds is that we can avoid giving our e-mail address or any other private details. Additionally, we can subscribe to numerous websites and have all the feeds come into the sidebar Feeds panel rather than into our inboxes.

We saw how easy it is to set up feeds in the Feeds sidebar panel, how to organize them, and most importantly, read them! In managing feeds we can determine how long we want to keep feeds. This means we don't have to worry about deleting them as they will delete automatically according to the timeframe we have set.

So now, rather than visiting all the different websites to remain updated, all the latest information on that website comes to us. Additionally, we can read and manage these feeds from the same client that we are accessing our mail, calendar, contacts, and applications form.

Further resources on this subject:

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IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 User Guide

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