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

Re: RSS Issues: Comments requested

Author:Dan Libby
Posted:11/14/1999; 11:06:24 PM
Topic:RSS Issues: Comments requested
Msg #:13049 (In response to 12979)
Prev/Next:13048 / 13050

To be honest, I'm afraid of allowing arbitrary elements in RSS. I like extensibility, and I normally complain about anything that limits my options, but it is easy to go too far with format freedom. For example, XML is completely extensible, but is also completely useless as a content transport until someone defines a common vocabulary. RSS is such a common vocab. The moment we say that yes, you can include arbitrary sub-elements, it will be impossible for any given site to support all of those elements in any nicely formatted way. The best thing you could do is to print out the tree structure and hope for the best. True, 2 sites that agree upon a common structure could use it to format things nicely, but they can do that today, with plain XML, not using RSS. I think the right path is for the RSS user community to define a common format and advance it over time, sort of like HTML has advanced (well, hopefully more smoothly than that!).

Things like stock symbols and dates are obvious candidates for inclusion. So, apparently, is HTML formatting, although I'm concerned this will make parsing and reading RSS much more difficult. Here is one way I've seen HTML embedded that seems to work okay so long as the HTML is well-formed:

Something Here

One proposal we discussed at Netcenter was to define some sort tag, that could be used under any of the pre-defined tags. One problem with this is that it makes it difficult to use with a validating XML parser unless you do some funky tricks to include the proper DTD. XML namespaces are another supposed solution to this problem, but I haven't heard of anyone using them with validating parsers either.

Again, I hate to limit what people can do, but I would also hate to see RSS fragment to the point of uselessness. Agree? Disagree?

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