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Movement on next-generation RSS

by Edd Dumbill -- 2000/06/08

This has week has seen renewed energy from web developers to further the RSS lightweight headline format, as used by sites like My Netscape and My UserLand.

RSS is currently the only really practical example of a metadata format in widespread use on the Web. However, it was designed with My Netscape in mind and doesn't serve the wider syndication purposes that have proved a key to its popularity.

Several developers have felt the requirement to improve the spec for a while, and over the last week this has concentrated into movement. My article from June 4, which suggested the use of RDF for a next-generation RSS, has attracted some attention from RDF enthusiasts, who are looking for an RSS-like "killer app" for the W3C's resource description framework.

On the less W3C-centric side, current RSS users are looking for an evolutionary approach to support the work they are doing now, and which won't disrupt their current operations. Dave Winer has posted a description of how RSS is used now as a preface to this debate.

Things currently look like there may well be two threads of development: an "RSS2" format, and a longer-term effort to provide useful, practical applications of RDF that work well over the Web--hopefully learning from the success of RSS.

Discussion of the issues are currently happening in two online forums:

  • RSS and related metadata mailing list, set up by Rael Dornfest of the O'Reilly Network.
  • eGroups Syndication mailing list, which has been going for around a year, and is more specifically focused on syndication.