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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.


At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Aaron Schaap said...

Not that it's a big deal now in 2006 but back (in the old days?) during the development of various RSS versions - different newsreaders would only support certain standards.

So when a new version came out, there were small problems on people being able to read it in their newsreader.

Now, realistically, this ended up only taking about 6 months for everyone to figure out but it happened non-the-less. I guess I could do some cleaning up.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I don't see any reason for you to stop supporting those formats, and if you follow the permanent URL mantra, you should at least leave them up with a "Feed Moved" message, though I'd debate the necessity of that.

I agree that the tumultuous times of RDF/RSS1/Atom.03/RSS2 made it imperative that publishers support multiple formats, however I don't see the point for new sites.

I did a (small) bit of research, and after Atom hit 1.0 (and an IETF RFC), most people stopped debating the issue. News Readers all (prove me wrong, anyone) support Atom, so there is no reason to backpedal to old formats.


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