RSS vs. Atom


There have been some interesting questions and discussions on the Ask Phil forum. For example, Nathan Stocks said:

It often seems like once I hear about something new it suddenly appears everywhere. RSS is apparently one of these.

I read up on RSS today, and it's essentially an agreed-upon XML format to publish web content, especially blogs.

Then I run across a feature article about RSS vs. Atom on c|net (news.com).

Atom was developed by an IBM Software Engineer and is backed by Google and Six Apart (makers of moveable type), while just about all of the rest of the big players are currently backing RSS.

Anyway, the article is about a proposed merging of the two formats. ╩Has anyone out there had a lot of experience with Atom? ╩Is it better or worse than RSS, or just different? ╩Would merging the two formats be a good thing?

From Forums for Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog - RSS vs Atom
Referenced Fri Mar 12 2004 09:59:19 GMT-0700

Ray Matthews, who runs the RSS in Government weblog and probably knows as much about the uses of RSS as anyone replied:

There were informative discussion sessions about Atom (http://www.atomenabled.org) at both the recent SDForum Web Services SIG meeting (see Brian Cantoni's notes at http://www.cantoni.org/2004/02/25/sdforum) and at RSS Winterfest (see http://www.socialtext.net/rss-winterfest/index.cgi?rss_and_atom). ╩Much of the debate seems to center on which is better, RSS or Atom, and which will prevail?

RSS has taken off because of it's simplicity. The Atom backers, a group of critics largely put off by Dave Winer's perceived godfather influence, say that Atom is simpler even than RSS 2.0 and that it offers additional capabilities. ╩For example, you can differentiate between content in an original posting and its replication thereafter through the blogosphere. ╩I think that many developers have been genuinely stoked. ╩

There has been a mixture of reactions amongst those developing aggregators. For the most part they've enthusiastically embraced it. ╩Of course they're going to jump in and support any new "standard"; they need to so to keep their market share. ╩Many, though, realize that Atom is still an unborn child that may or may not make it in the real world. ╩Google has gone so far as to support it exclusively with their free Blogger service, forcing the hand of aggregator developers who would have preferred to wait and see. ╩I think that was a premature decision. ╩

All the ruckus about burying the hatchet and merging RSS 2.0 and Atom into a backward compatible RSS/Atom may be a sideshow. ╩Are content syndicators rushing to embrace Atom? No. Most new business users of RSS are generating feeds using barebones RSS 0.91. ╩Many using syndication for higher-end needs and opting for RSS 1.0 or NewsML are similarly unimpressed with the hullabaloo. ╩

Two things are certain. It's a good idea to bring RSS and Atom under the umbrella of a standards organization such as the IETF, and the RSS spec will continue to evolve, hopefully keeping its simplicity and continuing to support extensionability. ╩As for me, I'll continue to generate my content in every conceivable format (let the subscriber choose), and use parsers liberal enough to accommodate all.

From Forums for Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog - RSS vs Atom
Referenced Fri Mar 12 2004 10:01:05 GMT-0700

The debate over RSS 2.0 vs. RSS 1.0 vs Atom generates a lot of smoke, but in reality, unless you build aggregator software, its not all that germane right now. ╩Eventually, it will be because there will be a lot of other programs that read and generate RSS (which is the term I use generically). This will happen faster if there's a common format. I think there's reason for optimism that either the market or the proponents of the different versions will decide on a common format soon. ╩ Dave Winer's offer is an excellent beginning.