mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Tuesday, 22 April 2003


RSS needs Profiling

Tim says that RSS Needs Fixing. Right on! Some people are intereted in endless tinkering with RSS - I’m not. I’m interested in putting it on everybody’s desktop, and making it transparent to them. This means we need better interop.

How do we fix this? Maybe I’ve just got a hammer, but it seems like we’ve faced this problem before - with SOAP. SOAP 1.1 had a lot of ambiguities, but the community got together and came up with a profile that fixed a lot of these problems, WITHOUT revving the version of the protocol. Makes sense.

How would we do this for RSS? I think it would be relatively easy (and MUCH more lightweight). Get a bunch of aggregator folks (virtually) together and decide what features they’re going to support - e.g., xhtml:body, how to interpret markup inside description, how to prioritize different elements that do the same thing, etc. Use Jorgen’s RSS schema, and modify it to make it easy to validate a profiled feed.

Package it all together and declare that a feed is conformant with a profile element in the channel, and we’re done; any aggregator (or other client software) that is profile-conformant can read any feed that is as well, and correctly represent it.

Once again, it doesn’t mean that you can’t innovate, or include other stuff in your feed. It just locks down the stuff that’s already there, so we can move on.

How about it?

One Comment

Dave Winer said:

Yes, it very much does need a profile, and in fact it has one. Follow the 2.0 spec, not just in what it permits, but do what it recommends. Use pubDate, not dc:date. Use the element because aggregators can use it to make teh user experience better, that’s right, for users. It’s about time to start acting like an industry and look out for all our customers and put aside the competitiveness over formats. I like the way things are going, let’s keep going.

Thursday, April 24 2003 at 8:15 AM