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   Re: [xml-dev] best practice for providing newsfeeds ?

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> I'm asking this honestly -- I don't really have any problem with Atom,
> but I have always felt that the business decision-makers feel that "if
> it's not broke, don't fix it".  And RSS's "brokenness" seems to be
> something of concern only to techies right now...

As best as I understand from watching the food fight from a distance, 
there's no dispute that RSS works fine in the current world where the 
content is almost all human-readable and the parsing is extremely 
liberal.  The question is whether this success will continue once 
serious businesspeople get into the act, when real money is at stake, 
when lots of people start syndicating information that is mostly 
processed by machines (calendars and schedules data that would be 
pulled from a feed into Outlook, perhaps, or financial information that 
might be acted on by some sort of 'bot), and as people want to move 
away from liberal parsing towards content format contracts.  The 
"simplicity" of the RSS specs looks like underspecification to someone 
who wants to be able to reject/ignore a message if it does not meet a 
rigorous understanding of what information is there and how to find it.

Or to put it another way, if the people who do this for a living (or as 
a serious hobby) can't agree on what a "valid" weblog update is, how 
can one expect them to agree on what a valid bit of financial news or a 
valid meeting request is?  The current system manages to hang together 
with lots of back-channel communication, and works well so long as the 
worst that can happen is one doesn't see that Joe Blow updated his 
weblog.  It's not so clear that the current way of doing things is 
successful when real money is on the table or if serious players start 
processing thousands of RSS/Atom items per second.  I'm not sure if 
having a more rigorous definition of validity and insisting on real XML 
parsing will fix these next-generation problems, but it sure seems like 
a useful first step to anyone steeped in XML best practice.

The obvious alternative of turning RSS into a rigorously defined spec 
seems to have been rejected because of the desire to get out of the 
food fight, not because of any technical reason.


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