Next Generation Syndication and Publishing

Written on 8:34:00 AM by S. Potter

For the last year or so, I have been focusing on implementing RSS, Atom publishing and related standards for a particular client in the podcasting industry. Both RSS and (to a lesser extent due to its standard being finalized much later) Atom are being heavily used not just for blogs, podcasts, videos and multimedia content, but also used heavily for web 2.0 (or social media) activity "watching". Most people should be familiar with FriendFeed by now (if not, where have you been? really!). This month (August 2008) FriendFeed came out with their Simple Update Protocol (SUP) which sits on top of RSS/Atom publishing to make it easier for content consumers (very self-serving for FriendFeed, but at least they are coming up with some kind of "solution" instead of just bitching about the status quo) to identify feeds that have changed before they make a timed request for the feed every X minutes regardless of whether the feed has changes or not. In a nutshell, SUP requires a meta JSON feed that notifies consumers of newly updated feeds to publish data. The first time an RSS/Atom feed is subscribed to, the consuming agent (e.g. FriendFeed) will strip out the SUP-ID and the SUP feed URL from the xpath:channel/link element and associate this information with the relevant user/account or whatever. Then using the identifier for a feed returned by the meta JSON feed, the consumer knows the URL associated with that ID for feeds they need to be updated by. While this might solve some problems, it really does feel very much like a monkey patch. On the flip side I do understand to some extent why they took this path of monkey patching as opposed to coming up with something more revolutionary. Revolutionaries tend to get killed and only the second wave settlers reap the benefits of their blood, sweat and tears. However, I did want to mention SixApart's efforts to broadcast frequently updating consumable data in what should be a much more obvious way for former enterprise MOM developers like myself. The Six Apart Update Stream broadcasts over HTTP new public updates/posts as they happen. It's an interesting idea and much closer to the XMPP ideal that companies like Twitter have attempted. Any other former enterprise architects merely see this new trend in web [defacto] standards in publishing and consuming data as just another message oriented middleware (MOM)? And I am hopeful that finally the web has found a MOM in XMPP that can stand the test of public scrutiny.

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