Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Progress on categorization

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:10/1/1999; 8:28:12 AM
Msg #:11671 (In response to 0)
Prev/Next:11670 / 11672

Praise Murphy!

Well, yesterday was an unqualified good day for My.UserLand. Every scan went without a hitch.

We found the problem that had been making it fail on Wednesday, there was an assertion in the kernel code that was way obsolete, it was basically complaining about an XML file that was improperly using namespaces. Of course this isn't something to panic about, it happens all the time. But that's what the software did, and the problem was compounded, thanks to Murphy, by the fact that the assertion dialog was invisible!

Anyway, Murphy-willing, it seems that we can go forward now.


I've had several conversations with Jon Udell from Byte.Com about categorization in the area of syndication. There's a lot of interest in this in the community of developers that are working on this stuff. Yesterday I took some first steps to add support for categorization to our aggregator and to pass the categorization information on to the affiliates.

As I see it, there are two levels of categorization, at the channel level and at the story level. I want to be able to say that Scripting News is in several categories. And, when I have the time (this is a concern I have) I want to be able to add stories that appear on Scripting News in different categories.

The idea is to have a database that allows people to follow different categories and to allow anyone who's doing an RSS or ScriptingNews channel to be able to put their channel in any category, or many categories, and the same with the stories that appear in their channels.

category tag

So, I've added support on the aggregator for a new tag, category, and Jon is using that tag in his channel, and I have a new XMLization for Scripting News that uses it as well. Here are pointers to the two files:

Last night I built a very crude and simple category organizer, and it unveiled a lot of issues that I hadn't thought of before. That's one of the advantages of actually implementing stuff as you think about it. Some things that seem trivial while you're thinking become complex when you actually have to make it work.


Since I don't author my home page in XML, I do it in text in a web browser, I had to come up with a syntax for adding categories. I wanted it to be memorable and easy, so I used [[double square brackets]]. As my CMS churns the text it strips them out of the HTML renderings and adds category tags to the XML version. If you want to see what it looks like, check out the DG version of today's Scripting News, which doesn't hide the bracketed text.$11666

I'm not sure this is optimal, or if this will be a long-lived way of doing things, but it works reasonably well, at least for 1.5 days.


Refer to this posting by Jon Udell, 9/9/99, on categorization in RSS:$10830

An extensive discussion followed, including comments from many of the leaders in web syndication. Jon's posting is my basic development plan.

Next week

I'll be out the rest of today, and won't be working that much this weekend, but next week I plan to specify the XML-RPC interface for affiliates so we can start distributing the story flow, and Murphy-willing I want to do some more work on this category stuff. There have been some questions about this so I wanted to be upfront and show people what we're doing. Please give it some thought and be ready to discuss this stuff next week. Thanks!

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