Phillip Pearson - web + electronics notes

tech notes and web hackery from a new zealander who was vaguely useful on the web back in 2002 (see: python community server, the blogging ecosystem, the new zealand coffee review, the internet topic exchange).


Replacing RSS?

It looks like various people are working on a replacement for RSS, the ubiquitous weblog syndication format.

I look at this and think one thing:


Why do you need to replace RSS? Why do all blogging tools and aggregators need a new format? Do they really need it, or can you do it with namespaced additions to the RSS 2 spec?


Response to comments

Georg and Christian brought up a good point in the comments (link below): redefining syndication doesn't necessarily mean throwing out RSS.

I should clarify my position here. I support the effort to define blog-related stuff in unambiguous terms. I would be very pleased if the PIE effort went through, worked out a standard set of metadata, and then went back and made a better definition of RSS2 and a namespaced addition to add anything extra they might need.

But ... changing from RSS to another syndication format isn't going to stop people either putting unencoded HTML in their RSS, or double-encoding it when they're only meant to encode it once. The RSS spec is clear enough about this:

    the description contains the text (entity-encoded HTML is allowed)

Reading that, you might be tempted to claim that the spec is saying that unencoded and double-encoded HTML are fine too, but really it's pretty obvious that that's not the case, isn't it? People generate invalid RSS, and they're going to generate invalid MSS or PIE or whatever it's called as well. The problem here is not a design flaw in RSS -- it's that people don't read the spec, people don't compare their implementations with existing ones and people don't test their software.

I like to think that the world doesn't need multiple feature-equivalent ways to do the same thing. If you can already do it with RSS, please keep doing it with RSS. If you can't do it with RSS, then by all means go ahead and make a new way to do it. But please make it backward-compatible. RSS allows namespaced additions, and they work just fine. So please use them. The world will be a better place.
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