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RSS Follies

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I've upgraded the RSS feed of this site to a RSS version 1.0 feed. The old version was a strange mix between versions 0.91 and 1.0, so I decided to standardize on a single version. Normally a minor upgrade like this wouldn't merit a mention. But RSS has an interesting version history, so I thought I would share why I chose to use the 1.0 spec rather than the 2.0 spec.


The versions of RSS are no longer well-ordered. Instead, there are now two incompatible branches, both calling themselves RSS. I've chosen to use the RSS 1.0 branch, which was created by a team of people, as compared to the RSS 2.0 branch, which was primarily authored by Dave Winer.


While both RSS 1.0 and 2.0 support extension via XML namespaces, 1.0 supported this before the 0.9x series that 2.0 is based on. This shows from the number of modules for each listed on dmoz, which is 18 for RSS 1.0 and 1 for RSS 2.0 (that extension was written by Dave Winer).

The feature that I most like about RSS 2.0 is its lack of RDF. I don't see the use of RDF in 1.0, although I wouldn't be surprised if it was to allow for more complex data structures than the simple tree used in RSS. On the other hand, I don't think that the RDF is that big of a deal in 1.0, as it's easy to generate automatically, and I don't see people writing RSS by hand. (In fact, in this site most of the html I use is preprocessed, so I rarely write html by hand.)

I dislike the RSS 0.9x-2.0 branch practice of including many elements in the core. I think the RSS 1.0 method of enhancing the core with extensions is a better design, as it allows for people to easily propose new extensions, and have them become de facto standards. This was what led me to choose RSS 1.0 for my RSS feed.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-02-09 15:50

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