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Saturday, February 7, 2004

How many syndication formats do you have to implement?

I got an interesting email from Dean Peters, a developer who is confused about which syndication formats he needs to support. First his email, and my answer.

Dean says

I've been beefing at Bible publishers to RSS-i-fy their daily verses. This past fall, I finally got some results from a variety of publishers, all with invalid RSS files.

So while creating an example RSS 2.0 file for an upcoming article, it was requested of me that I also create an Atom 0.3 example file.

I'm a code monkey, what's a few tags among friends.

But it really bugs me that I have to now support 2 different standards because of 'religious wars' that I could care less about. To be quite honest, not being an A list blogger, I've pretty much ignored what appears to be a feud over ... well I'm not sure.

Will there ever be a middle ground? I mean I found some in the coding of both files  (provided the Atom people don't freak out that I'm extending alternate links using the Link Module Spec. they very same way I'm extending the RSS 2.0).

But will there ever be a middle ground with regards to the people behind the standards?

I know you must get this question quite a bit. Forgive me, I'm not trying to accuse anyone of anything. Just trying to figure out what's going on out there so I can tell my readers why they need to support both versions ... and why or why not they should use the Link Module Specification to extend Atom just as they did RSS.

My response

Actually as a supplier of content you don't have to worry about it, you can pick one format, and stay with it. For example, Scripting News has a RSS 2.0 feed. Every aggregator understands RSS 2.0, and if they ever stop supporting it, well, that will be long after I hang it up.

It's the aggregator developers who are caught between a rock and a hard place. It would be in their interest for everything to coalesce into one format. I have tried to be a force for coalescing, that's what the whole campaign about being non-funky was about. I'd say it didn't work -- in a spectacular way. But you didn't hear too many aggregator developers objecting.

Anyway, I'd say if you produce RSS like mine, you're in good shape. No one is going to not read Scripting. Or if you follow the form of some other widely subscribed-to publication like the NY Times, or Rolling Stone. Again, aggregators aren't going to remove code that reads these publications.

# Posted on 2/7/04; 11:02:41 AM -