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Here’s the comment I posted to Scoble’s blog about the RSS vs. Atom debate that’s been sparked by the W3C’s invitation to the Atom developers to work toward standardization.



To me, this is not a VHS vs. Beta argument but rather very much like a DVD+RW vs. DVD-RW argument. In both cases, both formats can be interpreted by about 99% of "reader" devices. Nowadays most DVD recorders can burn to both formats as well. The only difference is in the label that's on the media. A few odd compatibility quirks exist (for instance, it would at least seem that the Xbox prefers reading DVD+RW discs to any other DVD format) - but to the "average" user, the formats might as well be identical. And so, Atom and RSS could very well follow the path of DVD+/-RW and become virtually the same if most every tool for both creation and interpretation becomes Bi-Format capable.

When will we see the disappearance of DVD+ and DVD- distinctions? When the next evolution of disc technology comes along? Or will the same thing happen again with Blu-Ray and HD-DVD?

Will we see the end of RSS or Atom before some new super-syndication technology supersedes them both? Or will we see competitive coexistence become shared dominance of the "market" – as has happened with writeable DVDs?

I think at this point the latter is looking very likely.  Given the relative ease of supporting both specs, I expect that it won’t really matter which format you publish in… because everyone is always going to be able to read it.

From a technical perspective I know very little about RSS, and far less about Atom.  But from what I’ve heard, Atom is a complete Programming Interface designed to handle publishing from end-to-end (from posting to aggregating/reading)… whereas RSS seems to be “just” a specified xml format designed to handle the aggregating/reading side of things.

The idea of having a complete syndication API appeals to the developer in me… but so far I’ve yet to see a convincing argument about why this is better than just leaving that work up to the developers of the tools?

That doesn’t mean such an argument doesn’t exist… it just hasn’t found its way to me yet J

Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 8:00 AM | Back to top

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