Simon Willison’s Weblog

Tim Bray on RSS

Tim Bray: RSS Needs Fixing:

Because, boys and girls, RSS is no longer a science experiment, it’s becoming an important part of the infrastructure, which means that a lot of programmmers are going to get the assignment of generating and parsing it, and they need better instructions.

Tim’s main problems are with escaped HTML in the <description> element and the lack of support in RSS for relative URI references. Tim says double-escaping of entities is “stupid”, but it seems to me to be a fairly logical extension of escaped HTML. Of course, escaped HTML itself is probably the single ugliest thing about the current RSS spec but there are good practical reasons for it, and if I’ve learnt anything about Dave Winer over the past few days it’s that he prefers practical solutions to theoretical ones.

I’ve calmed down a bit from my RSS is too complicated rant of a few weeks ago. I still think there is a huge challenge facing implementors of tools that consume RSS, but when you compare that to the challenge of constructing a modern web browser it really isn’t such a big deal. The biggest problem is probably keeping up with the myriad of versions, extensions and proposed extensions to the current standards.

Sam Ruby has plenty of RSS stuff today as well.

This is Tim Bray on RSS by Simon Willison, posted on 22nd April 2003.

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Previously hosted at http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2003/04/22/timBrayOnRSS