Lee Byron

tilby RSS you mean Atom

I set about adding an “RSS feed” for this til site, only to find that despite reader apps calling themselves “RSS readers”, that most “RSS” feeds out there are not actually written in RSS, they’re mostly written in Atom. There are actually a small handful of feed document formats out there, and RSS is sort of the “Kleenex” of the feed marketplace: all feeds find themselves called “RSS” when they may not be.

RSS was created in 1999 (the best era of the web if you ask me) by Netscape as a simplification of RDF. It was …tossed over the wall. This was right about the time of the Netscape & AOL merger, and RSS disappeared from netscape.com. Meanwhile RSS was very popular in the early days of the internet and adopted by many media companies figuring out this whole world wide web thing. In 2002 the version of RSS we mostly know was created by an independent group (retitled from “Rich Site Summary” to “Really Simple Syndication”) but under dubious legal circumstances and under the shadow of the AOL/Netflix conglomerate which technically owned the copyright.

Emerge Atom, an open standard introduced in 2003 meant to replace RSS. It’s vendor neutral and open, solves some of RSS’s quirks, extensible, internationalized, championed by Google and other cool young tech companies, and even blessed by the IETF as RFC4287. And it still gets called “RSS”, sigh… open source is hard sometimes.

Two decades later, please use Atom for your syndication feeds. It has been hardened by two decades of use and still works great.

In fact, even this site has one! Consider subscribing with NetNewsWire, an open source feed reader.