Via Brian Sweeting (who was in attendence at this morning's CTO Breakfast) I learned that iTMS is now offering RSS feeds. Like Brian, I wish you could fine tune the feed a little more, but then, that raises its own set of problems.
Here's the problem I'm thinking of. Imagine a world where there's RSS everywhere and there's a lot of knobs on each feed that you can twiddle to fine tune what you see. Now imagine that you've spent a lot of time on the iTMS RSS Generator and got an RSS feed for iTMS that suits you, but one day you want to change it. Do you go through all that fine tuning all over again as you would on today's non-persistent RSS generator applications? Would you even remember what you'd done last time so that you could fine tune it? Multiply that by hundreds of specialized feeds you, or your computer, might subscribe to and you've got an adminitrative nightmare.
I think there are several partial solutions to this problem with pros and cons
- iTMS could offer a persistent application that you log into and can adjust your RSS feed and then get a new URL.
- You could sign up for fairly generic feeds that contain more data than you really want and then fine tune it in the aggregator.
- You could feed the RSS URL, if properly designed, back into the generator where it would be decoded and present you with the last set of options you used.
The first option is too 90's. RSS is supposed to free us, at least a little, from lots of persistent Web site hassles. The second option is very flexible, but wasteful of bandwidth. The third option makes URL design more important and breaks what some people consider good URL design principals. I favor a combination of option 2 and 3. I think that RSS tools that offer the user more control over the feed are important, but that can't substitute for having the originating site provide the best information it can.