Permanent link to archive for 3/8/04. Monday, March 8, 2004
RFC: Merge RSS and Atom?

Re this post on Scripting News..

I'd like to make a constructive offer to the people who are working on Atom. And before stating the offer, let me say that I am open to counter-offers.

First, consider the avalanche of support for RSS in the last couple of months. I have a page for some of my recent links on RSS, but not all of them. If Atom proposes to go up against RSS, this is what it's going up against.

Would it be reasonable to merge Atom and RSS, much the way we merged scriptingNews format with RSS between 0.90 and 0.91?

Some bullet-points follow..

0. We could come up with a new format called say RSS/Atom (which conveniently is the terminology many people, like Scoble, are using to talk about the format used for syndicating publications and weblogs).

1. The format would differ from RSS 2.0 as little as possible.

2. It would have the great spec that the Atom people are promising. A great validator, and lots of support from developers who evangelize the format. There wouldn't be many flames because everyone would be getting most of what they want.

3. It would be managed by an IETF working group that would be open to anyone who wants to participate, not just me, or Sam Ruby or Blogger and Movable Type, but anyone who wants to make the effort to contribute to furthering the art of syndication technology.

4. It would be backward compatible with RSS 2.0, so that any 2.0 feed could become an RSS/Atom feed by changing (fill in the blank, as little change as possible).

5. The top level item in the feed would be called rssAtom. It's a problem for at least one aggregator that the top level item in Atom is called "feed" -- not such a problem today, but later when another format comes along that also calls its top level item "feed." Formats in general should use a distinctive name for their top-level element. (Prior art: HTML, RSS, SOAP, RDF.)

6. What else?

A picture named love.gifCaveat: All of this was written quickly and should not be considered spec text, rather a request for comment. Can we put aside our differences now, and come up with a format that honors the work that's been done in the past and today and makes it possible for things to be better in the future, without the wasted energy that comes from disagreement and disrespect?

# Posted by Dave Winer on 3/8/04; 9:28:16 PM - --