RSS 1.1 Update

The response Sean, Cody and myself have had to RSS 1.1 has been mostly positive, and we’ve gotten a number of suggestions for ways to make it better. We’re going to be working over the weekend to implement these changes into the schema, and releasing a second draft on Monday sometime.

The response was, all in all, pretty good: We’ve had some good people on our side, offering encouraging comments on the specification. At the same time, there is the all too common “Oh no, not another RSS version” that you get in the case of anything new. I can honestly say that I think most of these comments misunderstand the goals that were being worked towards by RSS 1.1.

If you are not using RSS 1.0 right now, do not worry about RSS 1.1. It is designed only to fix the bugs that RSS 1.0 has, due to the fact that it’s 5 years old. If you try to drag me into politics: whether it be on whether another RSS format is good or bad, or on other things which are unrelated in a change from 1.0 to 1.1, you are misunderstanding the original intentions behind this format.

It is a possibility that given a better defined specification, using the current version of RDF rather than the one that was available 5 years ago, some people who are not using RSS 1.0 now may want to make the switch to RSS 1.1 (if it achieves support in the community). If you do, great. If you don’t, also great. I have no interest in converting those of you using RSS 2.0. I have no interest in telling you to stop using Atom. I want a technical improvment over RSS 1.0: and RSS 1.1 does that.

At the same time RSS 1.1 was designed to fix bugs with RSS 1.0, it was also designed to make it easy for aggregator developers to develop support for it. Complete backwards compatibility, although wonderful, would have been so limiting as to make any changes to the schema useless.

RSS 1.0, although it still had an existing working group, was not being developed further. To work in the working group atmosphere would most likely have stifled creation of the new specification. Although some may think this is a bad thing, I think that RSS 1.1 does fit the needs of a small group of people without putting an ardurous strain on the people who develop tools for it.

In the end, lots of people will be unhappy with any new syndication format. The motivations behind this move, however, are entirely technical, rather than political, so, as Sean said at one point, most political arguments against it “concern us not”. The technical questions, on the other hand, do concern us, which is why we’ll be working to craft a second draft as quickly as possible, to get further feedback from the community.

2 Responses to “RSS 1.1 Update”

  1. rho Says:

    If you are not using RSS 1.0 right now, do not worry about RSS 1.1.

    Except that if people start using it, then they will come to expect it be supported by agregators, which effects those who write (or offer tech support for) agregators.

  2. Christopher Schmidt Says:

    ρ: If you have written an aggregator which supports RSS 1.0, you are “using” RSS 1.0 in my opinion.

    Thus far, the complaining I’ve seen from aggregator authors has been consuming more time than any implementation time actually would. I’ve implemented support in 2 different aggregator tools, and looked at the code for BottomFeeder (MagpieRSS and XML::RSS), and all three of them have required only minimal changes. (6-10 lines for the two I did, some minor subclassing for BottomFeeder). I honestly think that people are blowing the lack of backwards compaitibility out of proportion, given my experience in aggregator implementation time.