Format Wars: RSS 2.0 vs. Atom 1.0

July 18, 2005


As I arrived at work this morning, I noted the lead article on Slashdot. It discussed the impending battle between two feed/syndication protocols. Specifically, there is much speculation that Atom 1.0 has a number of compelling features over RSS 2.0.

As I considered the premise of the article, it made me think of the Betamax v. VHS debate several decades ago. Like that debate, the “winner” (if one must be found) will be the protocol that gains widest adoption. Given the recent Microsoft statements (as well as native support Mozilla Firefox), RSS has gained a formidable foothold. In fact, even Apple has hopped on the RSS 2.0 (w/enclosures) bandwagon with its iTunes 4.9 product. So Atom will need to have some fairly substantial advantages or it will be lost in the groundswell that is RSS incorporation into almost everything.

And speaking of gaining a foothold, the Slashdot article refers to a wiki where the two protocols are discussed. Unfortunately, that wiki has been “owned” by a bunch of haXorz (i.e., WILLY ON WHEELS). Some folks need to get a life! This should be a good debate. And demonstrating thoughtful consideration of issues is one of the hallmarks of open computing. Too bad that some folks think lively debate is equivalent to trivial tomfoolery.


Update: I wanted to see the differences between the two specs so I started fishing @ Technorati and ran across Randy Charles Morin’s great RSS site. Randy posted a very good quote from Jon Udell. Jon said, “Because today’s blogging infrastructure delivers those benefits sufficiently well, I don’t see a pressing need for most people (or rather, for the blogging tools that most people use) to replace RSS with Atom. But if things evolve in the direction I hope they will — towards richer payloads when content is syndicated among people (“publishing”) and machines (“data exchange”) — then Atom will really start to shine. To the many folks who labored over this specification: thanks for a job well done!” Jon’s full comments can be found here.



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One Comment on “Format Wars: RSS 2.0 vs. Atom 1.0”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
    – Herman Melville

    RSS is the way of the Future…
    rss feed list


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