It’s just data

RSS: it's not just for syndication anymore

RSS 2.0 is a great format for syndication.  It also is a great format for archiving.  It is the basis for a comment API.  It is the basis for the RESTLog API .  It would make a great weblog ping API.  Etc.

What makes it great for all these uses is that it is extendable

Given all this, what more could be desired?

I'll tell you what.  It would be nice if RSS items were explicitly designed to be embeddable.  By that, I mean able to be included inside of other formats which are designed to be extensible in exactly the manner that RSS 2.0 is.  Quid pro quo.

What does this require?  It requires the ability to place RSS item information into a namespace.  This does not mean that all of the previous RSS feeds out there suddenly become invalid.  To the contrary, it just means that a namespace needs to be identified and that there be general agreement that elements in this namespace in RSS feeds are to be interpreted identically to the way that unqualified elements are today.

In short, all feeds which are valid today will continue to be valid.  Some feeds which were not previously considered valid would now also be valid under this proposal.

Who will use this namespace?  When used strictly for syndication, I'll readily admit that not many will at first.  Perhaps some of us who have multiple feeds will explore using this namespace in one of them.  That alone will be enough to spur authors of RSS parsers and aggregators to support the namespace.

The support will typically not require much in terms of lines of code.  Some aggregators will not need to change at all.

So, why is this important?  Why all the fuss?  Simple.  I foresee a future in which there are many, many more applications of RSS than there are today.  Some will be standalone.  Some will be embedded.  It is my hope that by making this simple change today, the future users of such parsers and aggregators will be pleasantly surprised to find that they are already enabled


Sam R on RSS

Sam R on RSS... [more]

Trackback from ScottW's ASP.NET WebLog

at

It's happening - you're reinventing RDF.

Posted by Danny at

RSS fixins'

Tim Bray, RSS Needs Fixing: Because, boys and girls, RSS is no longer a science experiment, it's becoming an important part of the infrastructure, which means that a lot of programmmers are going to get the assignment of generating and parsing it,...

Excerpt from Blogging Roller at

The past, present, and future of RSS

Sam writes some article/blog entries on RSS: The Future of RSS, Ghosts of RSS Past, RSS: it's not just for... [more]

Trackback from techno weenie

at

RSS 2.0

Sam has a whole pile of entries on RSS 2.0, which I fully support.  Dave Winer is worried about breaking existing clients, but I think that we still have only seen a fraction of the RSS use that we are going to see.  Breaking RSS on last... [more]

Trackback from Ted Leung on the air

at

Distributed RSS Discussion

There’s an interesting distributed discusson on RSS’s past, problems, and possible future going on, includng a concrete proposal for how to move RSS 2.0 to a fully-embeddable namespace-protected format.... [more]

Trackback from Mt. Molelog

at

RSS 2.0

Sam has a whole pile of entries on RSS 2.0, which I fully support. Dave Winer is worried about breaking existing clients, but I think that we still have only seen a fraction of the RSS use that we are going to see. Breaking RSS on last time now is...

Excerpt from Ted Leung on the air at

The Future of RSS

Sam Ruby has been pouring out thoughts on RSS today: RSS Namespace Proposal RSS: It's Not Just for Syndication Anymore Ghosts of RSS Past These entries read either as an essay that looks like a series of posts or a series of posts that look like an...

Excerpt from Matt Croydon::postneo at

In brief: insomniac edition

A little of everything.  I mean, why not?  I'm up anyway.... [more]

Trackback from dive into mark

at

Getting the RSS 2.0 namespace right

Last time we discussed a namespace for RSS 2.0, I got it wrong, proposing the right thing to do as my third proposal and bad-mouthing it. This time, I'd like to see it done right....

Excerpt from phil ringnalda dot com at

Danny, I think RDF could really use a bit of reinvention, esp. in the XML-encoding department.

Posted by Ziv Caspi at

Sam Ruby -Why we should iterate the RSS format to use optional namespaces

Sam kicks butt in these posts (we're lucky to have his analytical clarity in the blogging community): Ghosts of RSS past RSS: it's not just for syndication anymore RSS namespace proposal <quote> Summary: At a minimum, I'd like to see an...

Excerpt from Roland Tanglao's Weblog at

Sam Ruby’s last few posts about RSS past and ...

Sam Ruby’s last few posts about RSS past and future help to explain why it needs namespaces (or some other change), which helped clear my previous confusion. Future apps. That makes sense (but for weblog aggregation? I'd still argue against a...

Excerpt from phil.wilson - a geek commodity at

Sam Ruby: RSS: it's not just for syndication anymore

It is my hope that by making this simple change today, the future users of such parsers and aggregators will be pleasantly surprised to find that they are already enabled...

Excerpt from paranoidfish.org/links at

Sam Ruby: RSS: it's not just for syndication anymore: It would be nice if RSS items were explicitly designed to be embeddable. By that, I mean able to be included inside of other formats which are designed to be extensible in exactly the manner that...

Excerpt from Simon Carstensen's Weblog at

Ziv - heh, I think the best you can say about RDF/XML (apart from 'but it works') is that you're not expected to look at it too much...

Posted by Danny at

Danny - I do see that as a problem.  I am a firm believer in protocols that enable "View Source".  In fact, that was the central theme of my ETCON tutorial earlier this week.

On the other hand, I will say that at least in the case of RSS, I don't consider RSS 1.0 appreciably better or worse than RSS 2.0 in this respect.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Sam, the "view source" idea does work well for programming languages, but this isn't necessarily the case for data languages. The source you look at is only the top layer in a whole raft of abstractions. You don't usually see what &lt;title&gt; looks like to your processor's registers.

RDF/XML is a serialisation of a model that is convenient for use between machines. If you want to "view source" with RDF you can look at the Notation 3 serialization if you like text or a graphical representation of nodes and arcs if you like pictures.

Try it from another angle : if RDF hadn't had an XML serialization, would people still have expected to be able to "view source" - after all, there's no standard, viewable source I'm aware of for the data in relational DBs.

(I do normally try to avoid looking at RDF serialization, but when I do have to I don't really have a problem with it - I find XSLT source and XML Schemas harder to read)

Posted by Danny at

Danny, we simply disagree.  That's OK.

It is my belief that most of the RSS 1.0 feeds are produced via templates - i.e. by a process that has no fundamental understanding or support of either XML or RDF.

What matters most isn't that the individual nodes in the network have such awareness built in, but merely that the output that they produce is indistinguishable from output from nodes that are.

Think of it as a Turing test.  And for such a format to exploit Metcalf's law, it has to be designed in such a manner that people feel that they can produce and consume such information without having to buy into the notion of a full information model.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Heh, I agree with the first three statements...

But disagree with the last.

I can produce and consume email without having a clue about SMTP or whatever. I can even build tools that send and receive mail without much more than knowing the address, subject...  structure of a mail. Doesn't Metcalf's law apply to Outlook nodes?

This idea maps to RSS/RDF as items with properties (title, description etc). I don't need a full, complete information model, only one of the parts that are of immediate interest.

What proportion of the people that generate RSS 2.0 feeds have read the Unicode specs?

Cliches like 'need to know basis' and 'it just happens' spring to mind ;-)

Posted by Danny Ayers at

Danny: care to take a guess on the percentage of RSS 1.0 feeds which are not well formed XML?  Want to guess what the most common problem is?

Posted by Sam Ruby at

In brief: 26th April 2003

RSS galore: what's in the future of RSS? Mark Nottingham is trying this: an Internet Draft of RSS 2.0. In the meantime, Sam Ruby elaborates: RSS Namespace Proposal, RSS: It's just not for syndication anymore, Ghosts of RSS past, Future of RSS. Then,...

Excerpt from Through the Blogging-glass at

Sam Ruby -Why we should iterate the RSS format to use optional namespaces

Sam kicks butt in these posts (we're lucky to have his analytical clarity in the blogging community): Ghosts of RSS past RSS: it's not just for syndication anymore RSS namespace proposal <quote> Summary: At a minimum, I'd like to see an...

Excerpt from Roland Tanglao: XML at

Sam Ruby -Why we should iterate the RSS format to use optional namespaces

Sam kicks butt in these posts (we're lucky to have his analytical clarity in the blogging community): Ghosts of RSS past RSS: it's not just for syndication anymore RSS namespace proposal... [more]

Trackback from Roland Tanglao's Weblog

at

Add your comment