Archive for the 'atom' Category

Boutique Blog Search via RSS/OPML Mashup

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Thanks to Giovanni Guardalben for the tip this weekend:

Marjolein Hoekstra and Todd And have used a bunch of free tools to create a OPML/RSS mashup called Kitchen Sink. They have NewsGator, FeedBurner, MySyndicaat, and Grazr in the mix to create a boutique search engine and feed source for a select group of blogs. (In this case, that group is from the list of Todd’s 150 Top Marketing Blogs. If marketing isn’t your thing, you could do the same approach with any OPML file.)

How it Works

Here’s the basic flow: OPML reading list of feeds from Todd’s Newsgator Online account. The OPML is then pulled into MySyndicaat to pull together the actual content of all of the RSS and Atom feeds into a river of news. The massive combined RSS feed that results is then prettied up in FeedBurner.

Kitchen SinkFrom there they used the very-beta GrazrScript (and a lot of help from Mike at Grazr) to create a GUI that lets you explore the data from the feed, using ReFilter to filter content based on keywords.

Kitchen Sink also lets you subscribe to a custom feed of your keyword searches… you’ll only get items from the blog list that have your keywords.

Wish List

I would like to see the Kitchen Sink widget hooked directly to MySyndicaat (using ReFilter in the GUI). That would cover the bare minimum of technologies needed and still deliver the desired end state: Choose/find your sources in MySyndicaat, and let them do the work of pulling the feeds and storing the master content. Use GrazrScript for the front end, and ReFilter for on-demand filtering of the master content.

Trouble Spots

1. I don’t know how well ReFilter will hold up under a heavy load, but I’m betting that if your user base is in the hundreds or low thousands, it should be fine. Hopefully they have a good bandwidth usage plan, (or a good cache scheme) since they have to re-read the feed every time.

2. The lynch pin, of course, is that the Grazr guys probably aren’t going to be able to do custom work for everybody who asks. :) My guess is development of GrazrScript will need to mature for awhile before this kind of approach is widely possible for the geek masses.

Update February 6, 2007

I chatted with Marjolein this morning about Kitchen Sink, congratulating her on making TechMeme for so long yesterday. Marjolein noted that although she has “less hair” because of various issues she had to work through in GrazrScript, the Grazr team didn’t need to contribute much. She did note that they readily squashed any bugs she found in GS, so that aspect of their support was invaluable. (Mike at Grazr also commented below on his involvement, and believes that GS is more mature than I state above.)

Radio Userland and RSS vs. Atom

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

fightWhen does it become a bad idea to not handle the competition’s format?

Dave Winer, the creator of RSS 2.0 and Radio Userland’s RSS Aggregator, chides a friend for switching from RSS to Atom:

I was subscribing to your feed, generally reading all your updates, and now I see the feed moved…. I saw that your new feed isn’t RSS, to which I ask — why?? Do you want to lose subscribers?

The position he’s taking, of course, is that there is no practical reason to use Atom (if there were, his own Radio Userland software would support it). Now he’s put himself out on a ledge where he has to ask people to stay on RSS, rather than just support Atom.

Let’s face it, support for both formats isn’t just commonplace, it is expected. To whit:

James Roberson notes:

Dave Winer must be the only guy on the planet with a newsreader that can’t handle Atom.

The comments on Roberson’s post are growing, but here are a few telling tidbits:

Rogers Cadenhead: I’m not aware of any newsreader outside of Radio UserLand and Manila that doesn’t support Atom 1.0

Asbjørn Ulsberg: The only reason Dave can’t read Atom feeds is because his software doesn’t support it. And the reason it doesn’t is politically based, not technically.

Elliotte Rusty Harold: Sooner or later they’ll upgrade when more and more of the feeds they want to aggregate are no longer available in RSS.

Dave, I think it’s time to rethink your position. If your goal is to provide software that is useful to people, why not handle the Atom format gracefully? Heck, even Microsoft Word can read other document formats. That doesn’t mean Redmond is admitting defeat, it just means good software is flexible, and there might be something other than .doc out there.

Like it or not, Atom 1.0 exclusivity is growing. Why not give yourself and your users a chance to read the content, even if you don’t like the package it comes in?

Microsoft Patents WHAT?

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Dear Amar Ghandi, Group Program Manager of the Windows RSS team,
You guys actually invented the RSS parser and feed API? Your patent claim is baffling:

“A content syndication platform, such as a web content syndication platform, manages, organizes and makes available for consumption content that is acquired from the Internet. In at least some embodiments, the platform can acquire and organize web content, and make such content available for consumption by many different types of applications. These applications may or may not necessarily understand the particular syndication format. An application program interface (API) exposes an object model which allows applications and users to easily accomplish many different tasks such as creating, reading, updating, deleting feeds and the like.”

That describes tons of applications both corporate and open source. Any programmatic API like ROME comes to mind. Did you create the RSS Platform in Windows Vista before all of them? Please do tell, I’m all ears.
(More objections by Dave Johnson here. CNET coverage here.)

The Popcorn Button for RSS

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

PopcornMike Sansone did a BlogTalkRadio show this morning (listen here) that talks about how he gets business people up to speed on RSS, feed readers, and general tips for using RSS efficiently.

One point that Mike made is that non-technical people look at feeds like a microwave… they don’t want to know about the neutrons and the power configuration. They want to know which button to push to make popcorn. The real power of the RSS/Atom story isn’t in how it works, but in what it does for you.

This goes back to Greg Reinacker’s comment in 2005 that “RSS is plumbing.” The specification merits of RSS or Atom will only win over the geekerati. Everybody else just wants to know where the popcorn button is.

So how do we make RSS as easy as microwave popcorn? Personally, I don’t see this happening until every email client - desktop and online - has free, robust support for RSS feeds. The biggest barrier I see in my workplace is resistance to “yet another application to monitor.” If feed items show up with their email, suddenly it isn’t so bad. Unfortunately, few email client feed readers are both good AND free. If GMail ever integrated Google Reader, that would be a killer, killer app.

Now where’s that butter?

ROME 0.9 Released

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Just announced:

A new release of the RSS and Atom Utilities (ROME) project 0.9 (beta) is now available on the project’s website. This new release includes fixes to Atom relative URI resolution, easier parsing for RSS feeds that use , better support for mapping of RSS to and from Atom and numerous small fixes.

Here are some quick links to the relevant release docs and files.
Release page
Change list

Direct link to downloads:

See Dave Johnson’s full announcement for more information on what’s included in this release.