A desktop ticker or news ticker is a computer application that allows users the world over to keep up-to-date with the latest news headlines, current affairs and stock price fluctuations by having real-time data sent to a small application, the desktop ticker, which sits on their desktop and periodically displays the latest data and updates pertaining to the various Real Simple Syndication (RSS) subscriptions a user has taken out. In short, it operates much like the news headline banners that scroll across the screen during the transmission of television news updates or like the old-fashioned news wire machines did in the past.
The desktop ticker that is found on desktops today is the "ticker tape" version of regular RSS feed readers. These readers go by the name of aggregators, feed readers, or news readers and operate in much the same way as a desktop ticker but with a few slight aesthetic differences. For example, a desktop ticker usually operates by scrolling or sliding across the user’s screen in a ticker-tape fashion, whereas regular RSS aggregators present their data in a more regular fashion.
There are countless desktop tickers available to download across the internet, but the best ones allow real-time or near real-time stock updates, can accommodate a well diversified portfolio of stocks and have adaptable Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). According to the website download.com, the most popular desktop tickers by download are Yahoo Messenger 9.0, Cool Tick Stock Ticker, Auto URL Refresher 2, Ticker Tape and the NASDAQ XP Logo Ticker.
Another important feature of the desktop ticker is the diversity and reliability of the RSS feeds it makes available. Good desktop tickers will source feed from some or all of the following well-known sources of stock and money market data: the Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, NASDAQ, Market Watch, Reuters, CNN Money and AOL Finance to name just a few of the many feeders of stock market RSS data.
The desktop ticker can be either a stand-alone desktop application which is capable of being moved around the screen area of a PC or can be incorporated into internet tool or application bars, email software or blogs. Regardless of its position, the ticker’s interface usually offers links to various financial and money market websites and comes furnished with a set of options that allow the user to tweak variables such as scroll speed and font size.