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A place for thought, progress, and dissent.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sam Ruby on RSS vs. Atom

Sam Ruby give a new exploration into the RSS vs. Atom debate. It's a must-read for anyone who's interested. He touches some of what's changed since Atom went 1.0.

Q: But Microsoft is planning to include RSS support in LongHorn, I mean Vista, in 2006 or 2007 or 2008 or something.  Microsoft is no dummy. Why did they pick RSS over Atom?

A: You have to realize that Microsoft uses the term RSS like many use the term Kleenex.  I’m not sure why they insist on confusing the market this way.

Q: So you are saying that Microsoft supports Atom too?

A: Yes, their Feed API works just fine with Atom feeds.  They were also amongst the very first to produce feeds that conform to the Atom 1.0 specification.

There's much more than this. I'm still angry at Apple for using the term RSS all over Safari. All feeds being available, Safari will chose the Atom one. Coincidence?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Don't Touch my Dock

I just installed Apple's iLife '06. First, I think I have a bad DVD (because it took forever and the the disc sounded like a space heater mating with a dryer) and then my dock disappeared.

I thought it was odd that iLife crashed the Dock, until I realized that it wasn't a crash; it installed icons for all iLive apps in my dock. All of them. Never mind that I did a custom install and only installed iPhoto and iWeb..

My dock is mine. I like it just the way it is. Don't install things for me; I'll put what I want it the Dock.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Atomic Superiority

Last week, I asked why I should support RSS in addition to Atom.

Since then, my colleagues seem to relish any opportunity to use RSS in conversation when I'm around, instead of Atom, or the more generic Feed or XML. So it's time to pick on one of them, and in the process, RSS itself.

Time to Pick on RSS

Aaron has a long list of feeds that you can subscribe to, but really Atom is the most useful here. To be fair to Aaron, he's using Movable Type, which makes it just as easy to support all of these feeds as it does to support one. But why would I even care about the others?

First, there is a RSD feed. Huh? Honestly, who is actually using that, and if there is anyone, who is actually relying on it?

Next we have not one, not two, but three RSS feeds! Whoa! We have RSS 1.0 and 2.0, which are fairly different. Then we have a RSS Full Post feed. What format is the Full Post feed in? No way to tell at a glance (RSS 2.0), and since the RSS versions a not really compatible, we can't make assumptions.

Finally, the whole concept of separate Summary/Full feeds is completely solved by Atom. Atom supports sending both full post and summary, so the client can decide what to show (bandwidth could be a consideration for not sending full-text, but I'd wager that supporting HTTP 304 headers would make a much bigger difference).

Kill RSS?

I'm not advocating that Aaron kill all but his Atom feed, this would be shortsighted. There is no reason to kill something that costs you nothing, just to promote a new standard (IE <= 7 is a major exception, but i digress). But my original question stands. Is there any reason for a new application to support non-Atom syndication? I am still struggling to find a single compelling reason.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I spent a bit of time today adding XML feeds to a site. I decided to only add Atom feeds, not RSS.

While a lot of people talk about RSS, it really seems to be a dead. Blogger stopped using it a while ago, in favor of the far-superior Atom format. Really the only group going nuts with RSS seems to be Apple, with iPhoto and iTunes, except that they're using it in non-standard ways. Worse, they use RSS to describe any sort of feed in Safari, making the casual user think that RSS is better, and more prolific than it is.

So should I spend a small amount of time and make my sites support one or more flavors of RSS? I can't think of a viable reason why I should.