RSS, OPML and the XML platform.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
Jared Breland has discovered that Firefox 2.0 is sending your feed hits to Google. I'm filing this under privacy violation.
David Kirk doesn't like all the overloading that is going on in RSS content. I have to agree, embedding FeedFlares, related posts, copyright notices, etc are a job for RSS clients, not something that should exist in the post content. On the other hand, I have to disagree on ads, because big media isn't gonna give us full-content RSS without embedded ads. It's a compromise I'm willing to make. What do you think?
Scott Hanselman discovered that Outlook is using proprietray feed URI schemes under-the-hood; OUTLOOKFEED: and OUTLOOKFEEDS:. As if the feed: URI scheme wasn't already dumb enough, now Microsoft is going and breaking the architecture of the Web again. Let's just hope that this is an internal thing that'll never find its way onto the WWW.
I just noticed that 20 people have included The RSS Blog in their favorites over on Technorati. Thanks to all! David Sifry, it would be cool to mine this information (add OPML and OPML auto-discovery to all these great webpages). I gotta update my own favorites and share some blogosphere love.
And now there's homework-casting. The author recommends iTunes as a podcatcher, but there's some holes in the process. He mentions that NetNewswire would work, but is not free. Rmail is free, no install, easy to use and I'd be prepared to fix any holes in the model.
All versions of Pluck's RSS readers for Internet Explorer, FireFox and Pluck's web edition will be discontinued on 1/5/2007. [cut] You have until 1/5/2007 to export your data, after which our servers will be turned off and your data will be deleted.
Randy: Pluck was one of the first great RSS readers. It competed for awhile with NewsGator but the entire product-line became very buggy over time. The end of an era. RIP! You can export your Pluck data to OPML and import it to Rmail or any other RSS reader.
With the release of Firefox 2.0 and IE 7.0, the importance of auto-discovery is moving from the realm of the uber-geeks to that of the mundane Web surfer. Without auto-discovery, IE 7.0 is gonna have a hard time finding your RSS feed to make it easy for users to subscribe to your feed. And you don't want that. You want to be the next Om Malik. That means, you have to do auto-discovery and you have to do it right. Let's start with the basics.
What is auto-discovery?
Auto-discovery is a technique that allows software to find your RSS feed from your blogsite address. Presented below is a fragment of the HTML you'll see behind The RSS Blog. You can check this out by using the View | Source menu option in Internet Explorer (if you use Firefox, then you likely already know this crap).
<title>The RSS Blog</title>
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS"
The element that allows for auto-discovery is the <link> element in the <head> section of the html source code of your website. This element should be present on the blogsite homepage, your blog entry webpages and any other webpages where you think a user might want to initiate a subscription to your RSS feed. You might be tempted to put the RSS feed of your blog comment feed or individual blog entry comment feeds. Trust me, this is a mistake. Your typical user is not gonna know the difference, in fact, I suspect I'm already confusing my own readers mentioning this crazy idea. Stick with your blog RSS feed. And while we're here, stick with one RSS feed. Don't provide both an RSS 2.0 and RSS 1.0 or Atom feed. One feed. Again, you'll only confuse the average subscriber.
Make certain the rel, type and title attributes are exactly as shown, including capitalizations. Change the value of the href attribute to indicate your preferred RSS 2.0 feed. Last, make certain the <link> element is inside the <head> element, that is, after <head> and before </head>.
Let me add that auto-discovery isn't limited to RSS feeds. You can also add an auto-discovery link to your blogroll or reading list. This is done in the same manner except that you change the media type in the link element. Don't worry about including both an RSS auto-discovery link and OPML in the same webpage, as I'm unaware of any problems that could arise. A sample OPML auto-disco link is shown below (which I stole from here).
<link rel="subscriptions" type="text/x-opml" title="Subscriptions" href="http://radio.weblogs.com/0001015/gems/mySubscriptions.opml">
I'm mentioning OPML auto-discovery only because I've noticed a bit of confusion in the blogosphere on how this should be done. In particular, note the type is "text/x-opml", not "text/xml+opml". The latter is invalid and doesn't make much sense at all.
To the uber-geeks reading this, please proof-read this for me. I want this to be ultra-accurate.
Update: Thanks to Marjolein Hoekstra for some great edits. Updates made in place.
Rogers Cadenhead points us to a Real Estate namespace for RSS 2.0. About a year ago, I was looking for a real estate XML to work with on one project. I wrote down a couple requirements and was unable to find anything that met these very trivial requirements. This real estate namespace doesn't meet those simple requirements either. For instance, when I was looking for a house 2 years ago, I wanted to filter out all properties that had swimming pools. I couldn't do that and this namespace doesn't allow for that either. The problem is that the authors of this XML tried to create an extension for RSS 2.0 and not a real estate vocabulary for XML. This is a recipe for incompleteness. A better approach is to take an existing real estate XML and describe how to use it with RSS 2.0.
There is a Real Estate Transaction XML called RETS. A year ago, I considered basing my project on that XML, but it was complex to the point where it was unusable. There seems to be a large gap between incomplete and usable that begs to be filled.
With the release of Firefox 2.0 and IE7, the world of RSS is changing. Stuff like USM are no longer relevant because both Web browsers will intercept those navigations to keep the user inside the browser. Previously, you could use techniques like USM to pass a click on an RSS feed to your native RSS client to kick-off a subscription request. Now, these browsers understand RSS and auto-discovery and they want to capitalize on RSS by keeping the eye-balls fixed in the Web browser.
Of course, Firefox and IE are absolutely horrid RSS readers, which don't compare to best of bread. This is leading to negative feedback, like Tim Anderson's "RSS in IE7: not too good." And here's another comment left by Bull, a reader of the RSS Blog.
What a pity that IE7 and FF2.0 developers do not explain how to make RSS readers compatible with one click subscriptions. I am still looking for any documentation on this topic...
And Tim and Bull are correct, in bringing RSS to the masses, the user experience has been compromised. In the next few days, I'd like to document what you should be doing as an RSS publisher and RSS developer in order to maximize your audience in this new Web.
Evan Williams, the famous startup junky that started Blogger.com, repurchased his latest startup Odeo.com from the VCs that financed it. Evan gives us details on why he did this?
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="a descriptive name for your feed" href="http://www.yourfeedaddress.com/rssfeed.xml" >
This weekend, Jason Calacanis discovered that NewsGator was putting ads along side their full content RSS feeds in NewsGator online. He says his full content feeds are for "non-commercial use ONLY" and that they "DO NOT ALLOW ADVERTISING AGAINST OUR *FULL* RSS FEEDS." Greg Reinacker, founder of NewsGator, in pure blogospheric form responded by bending over and greasing up. Jason followed up.
I've got a couple points to add. FeedDemon is commercial software and uses Jason's feeds. Ads are one form of commercialization of software. Selling a product is another. There's a lot of software that seems to be violating Jason's guidelines. Why isn't he complaining about them? Actually, he is.
He was upset that I was sending full-content Weblogsinc blog posts in Rmail and told me as much. I asked him for an OPML of Weblogsinc blog posts so that I could correct the problem. He followed up that what I was doing was not a problem. I wonder, had Greg not responded with BOGU, would Jason have backed off?
Part 1: Introduction (approx. 6 min.)
Part 1 introduces RSS as a concept. This tutorial discusses why RSS is important, and looks at an RSS feed.
Part 2: Using an aggregator (approx. 13 min.)
Part 2 deals with how to set up an RSS aggregator and subscribe to RSS feeds.
Part 3: Advanced RSS (approx. 15 min.)
Part 3 goes over specific tools that law librarians can use to set up RSS feeds which might benefit their libraries.
Michael Zhang of Folksonomy interviewed Dick Costolo, CEO of FeedBurner.
I bookmarked this more than a month ago and it didn't work at the time, so I left it at that. It's now functional. An interview with Dick Costolo of FeedBurner by Bambi Francisco of MarketWatch. Great job of selling RSS Dick. Thanks!
Luobotou RSS Robot is a Skype agent that acts as an RSS reader. Simply add luobotou as a content and start sending him commants.
More details at FactoryCity.
Carolyn Schuk: IOTUM's Relevance Engine manages [cut] looks at your calendar, your IM status, and the caller. Iotum routes calls automatically to your cell phone when you're out of the office and notes calling trends. IOTUM comes with an open XML interface and built in integration with the popular open source PBX, Asterisk.
Randy: I'd really like to know what these open XML interfaces are? Can I write an Google Calendar to IOTUM gateway that pulls my calendar information into IOTUM and redirects my calls based on various Google schedules? Alec?
Marjolein Hoekstra has written a bookmarklet that uses OPML autodiscovery to launch Grazr.
Steve Olechowski, founder of FeedBurner: here were some of the things i was wrong about in the creation of our business over the last 3 years.
The Folksonomy blog has a list of 7 tips for naming your Web 2.0 startup.
Clinton Gallagher asked what are the common and widely supported geocoding RSS extensions. I've rarely seen any geocoding used in RSS, but am aware of one extension called GeoRSS, based on an W3C RDF standard. There's also a similarly named GeoRSS.
More on GeoRSS...
Tristan Louis has a list of the top Web 2.0 acquisitions.
Just in, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. This is big. This will give Google most all of the video upload business on MySpace and other websites.
Niall Kennedy: The Windows RSS Platform ships as part of IE7 and will likely become the most popular desktop aggregator by the end of the year. Are you ready for the switchover?
Paul O'Flaherty: Truncated feeds are a bad idea.
Randy: I agree, but let me add caveats. Truncated feeds for a blog are a bad idea. Lot's of applications of RSS are best presented as truncated content feeds. For instance, search engine results and re-syndicated content.
It was only a matter of time before they found a buffer overflow problem in RSS.
I'm often asked why there is wide fluctuations in FeedBurner feed stats, as shown in my and other FeedBurner chicklets. This fluctuation can be as big as 10-20% of your total subscribers. The fluctuation is caused by the way that FeedBurner counts subscribers. For most native RSS readers, FeedBurner counts every unique IP/User-Agent as a subscriber. Since people turn off their work computers on the weekend, there's usually a big dip in subscribers on Saturday. As people return to work and startup their native RSS readers, the subscriber count increases all week. Here's my FeedBurner stats graph for the last month, which confirms the trend.