Archive for the 'Syndication' Tag

Safari 2.0.3 Supports Enclosures

Friday, January 27th, 2006

This could be old news but I just noticed that the latest version of Safari (2.0.3) supports enclosures, which is something that used to bring me a lot of feedback (i.e. the enclosure doesn’t show up in Safari, must be Feeder’s fault).

Enclosures in Safari

While Safari doesn’t have any way to automatically download enclosures, this feature will help make more sense of podcast feeds and is very useful for appcasting feeds, as seen above (from my main site’s news feed).

Feeder 1.2 / Return to Blog

Monday, August 1st, 2005

I released Feeder 1.2 with the new iTunes podcasting features last Friday, a little earlier than planned but it couldn’t come soon enough for most people. The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

For the beta testing, I needed the help of people already listed in the iTunes Music Store both to test that the XML was working and to test Feeder’s cool iTunes Preview feature matched iTunes itself. As such I’d like to thank those people who put their listings on the line (I didn’t quite put it like that at the time, did I?) to test out Feeder, namely:

All the links above are to their listings in the iTMS so you can see Feeder’s work in situ, subscribe, enjoy, etc. 😀

Also thanks to Björk for keeping me awake for the last 30-hour stint <rolleyes>. I needed some music that I hadn’t heard in ages and even more I’d never heard at all.

It also should be noted that Sam Ruby and Mark Pilgrim’s work on FeedValidator, posts on Intertwingly and the new Apple Syndication Dev mailing list has been incredibly useful. We know Apple has the questions, all we need now are answers.

Now that mad dash to the finish line is over, I no longer need to obsess over the minutiae of the iTunes RSS specification and I’ve caught up with my sleep, I’m going to be able to post more interesting things on this blog.

Stay tuned!

RSS, Atom and Podcasting

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Like a lot of things, with syndication formats it all seems to come out in the wash. Some of you may know that there are quite a few different kinds of XML feeds out there. One family consists of the RSS 0.91, 0.92 and 2.0 formats. RSS 1.0 is almost a different format (based on RDF) and there’s also RSS 1.1 in the works to follow on from that. Plus, for something completely different there is Atom.

Confused? You should be. The most recent comparison I could find is here and that also describes the politics involved, while an older (the age only really affects Atom and RSS 1.1) but more comprehensive comparison is made here.

In a nutshell, RSS 2.0 is simpler than RSS 1.x while Atom is also a publishing API allowing, for example, desktop apps to integrate with a blog – although there’s also the MetaWeblog API which is based on RSS and does much the same thing. Blogger uses Atom almost exclusively, I believe, while most blogging tools provide RSS feeds in some format or both of RSS and Atom. Practically everything else appears to use one of the RSS flavours. All of these formats can be extended with XML modules to the point that an RSS 2.0 feed can look almost identical to an RSS 1.0 feed, but Atom is a completely different animal.

I really don’t care much about the format politics. It seems most of the arguments centre around the semantics and the togetherness of the specifications rather than what they provide users of the feeds, which is what wins it in the end. Last year it seemed that Atom would supersede RSS as The Format To Use but with the emergence of podcasting, thanks to the Enclosure element in RSS 2.0, RSS seems to be on top again. Atom types will point out that the Atom link element can be used in the same way, and that you can have multiple enclosure-type links for each entry. That’s all very well, but I don’t know a “podder” app that supports Atom yet and the more flexible things are at the back end the more difficult it becomes to present and manage in the front end.

That’s where I think RSS 2.0 has the advantage as the use of feeds extends beyond the blogging world. RSS 2.0 is pretty simple and all the technomarvels in the world cannot beat that. I don’t see Atom or RDF going away – far from it – but I do see the three formats carving out their respective niches.

RSS – A Publisher’s Perspective

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

Simon Waldman, Director of Digital Publishing for Guardian Newspapers, gave a speech to the World Editor’s Forum in Seoul last week and has posted a transcript on his blog. It makes for an interesting and thoughtful read on the impact of RSS from a publisher’s perspective:

RSS and News Aggregators: Opportunity or Threat?

To add my completely unscientific tuppence-worth, I believe that if you have a feed on your site, no matter what you do it will attract more traffic. Maybe this is more noticable for a small site like my own, but you should certainly not lose any traffic as a result of syndication overall. Feeds don’t just sit there waiting for subscribers to come along but, along with the articles therein, are propagated around the web thanks to the likes of, Technorati and Syndic8. More links to your site increases your Google page rank and the additional exposure, while perhaps not a big deal for a large and popular site like Guardian Unlimited, can only be a good thing. If people really like what they read they will come back for more. Say what you like about the Guardian, but it stands out from the crowd.

Simon doesn’t dispute any of the above but in the highly competitive and increasingly globalised arena of news delivery, no such organisation can afford to ignore RSS or the implications of syndicated content overall. As he says, it’s great for readers but wasn’t designed to make publishers’ lives any easier.

A final thought from me is that with Safari’s RSS support, we now have one-click subscription that is easy and works; increasing adoption of RSS in other browsers (e.g. Firefox and OmniWeb) and with the rapid evolution of high-quality newsreader applications such as NetNewsWire Mac users seem way ahead in embracing this new technology.

Thanks to Gillian Thompson at Macworld UK for sending the link along.

Yet Another Reason to Use Feeds

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Moving home is a pain and one of the most annoying things at the moment is that I don’t have broadband internet or even a phone line in the new place until the end of this week, so currently I’m borrowing my friends’ internet connection during the daytime and in return I do things like wash dishes, random bits of shopping and, er, provide the entertainment.

Anyway, being completely cut off from the world is not exactly ideal when you run an online business, so I have a backup plan – I use the WAP GPRS connection on my Bluetooth phone as a modem. The downside to this is I get roughly dial-up speeds (48 Kbps) and it costs 0.5 pence per kilobyte. I don’t use it often but I do check emails to make sure there are no crises and hit the refresh button in NetNewsWire.

This gives me much of my dose of daily news and blogs, especially with the feeds that have all the content and not just a summary. It’s also largely a graphics-free, advert-free experience, which saves on those costly KBs.