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how to know when you support a format

I support RSS. I support Pie/Echo/Atom.

I wrote that, I re-read it, and then I thought: How is that possible?

This has always been my position, but, honestly: it sounds a bit naive, maybe dangerously unrealistic, no?

Somehow a perception has been created, that with RSS and Pie/Echo/Atom the choice is either-or.

Well. That, to me, sounds suspiciously like "You're either with us, or against us." I reject it almost instinctively.

And still I thought: "I support RSS. I support Pie/Echo/Atom."

Brent has his own (excellent) answer to this apparent dilemma, but I needed to find mine. So, in typical geek-obsessive fashion, I thought, ok, let's define "support", and see if the underlying semantics can explain what's going on here.

"Support" for a format in this context means (in my opinion):

  • Using it (in one or more ways) in the software I develop,
  • staying up to date in discussion of its specification, and/or its evolution, and (perhaps inevitably)
  • trying contribute to those two areas as much as possible
Of course, there are other "levels" of support. One might only use the format (point one) but not have time, interest, or knowledge to contribute to it.

But I'm interested in the case where all three are present (for obvious reasons).

Making the list had the effect of removing whatever politics or perception of political problems there were. I've never been involved in all the acrimony, but I realize now that you'd have to be made of granite or some sort of expensive metal alloy not to be affected in some way. For me, it was creating a certain level of internal confusion because I supported both. This simple list helped me clearly separate what really matters from what doesn't.

Hopefully this is becoming less of an issue anyway. For example, yesterday Sam, who is largely responsible for keeping Pie/Echo/Atom on track, was also helping refine the RSS spec, and Dave was acknowledging it. The new RSS process is working!

Which is great news, because even though Pie/Echo/Atom is important, RSS is not going away. It is already widely deployed, and stable (even if there are some arguments about some finer points in the spec). It is simple. There are all sorts of toolkits available for using it. And, finally, the Pie/Echo/Atom spec is not stable yet: if, in the near future, I had to deploy a new application that uses syndication <wink> it wouldn't even be a question. It'd use RSS 2.0.

To quote Brent: "My focus remains making software that people like." A-men to that.

I support RSS. I support Pie/Echo/Atom.

And it doesn't have to be a conflict.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 6 2003 at 10:14 AM

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