RSS Advisory Board

RSS 0.90, 0.91 Moving to RSS Advisory Board

Netscape announced this afternoon that the first two versions of RSS, RSS 0.90 and RSS 0.91, are moving to the RSS Advisory Board.

The RSS specification documents, DTDs, and help files for the first versions of RSS (v0.9, v0.91) are being moved to RSSBoard.org, where they will be hosted by the RSS Advisory Board in perpetuity. Netscape will continue to host these files (via redirect) on the My Netscape domain (my.netscape.com) until August 1st, 2008.

Netscape launched RSS on March 15, 1999, with the My Netscape Network and an RSS 0.90 specification written by Ramanathan Guha. Four months later, RSS 0.91 was launched with a specification written by Dan Libby. Five years after revolutionizing the web browser, Netscape sparked another revolution on the web with XML-based syndication.

All websites that produce RSS 0.9 or RSS 0.91 feeds will need to either convert to using the current standard (RSS v2.0), or if desired, convert their v0.9/v0.91 feeds properly using this guide, provided by the RSS Advisory Board, by August 1st.

The board will ensure the continued availability of the specifications and the RSS 0.91 DTD (document type definition), which still receives four million hits a day from XML parsing software. We could use some advice from Apache admins on how to serve a file that often without reducing the HTTP server to a smoldering heap of rubble.

In the eight years since Netscape published the first RSS specification, the format has become as essential to the web as HTML, XHTML and CSS. By my estimation, the specs and related DTDs have been requested from Netscape's servers more than one billion times.

As the current chairman of the board, I'd like to thank Guha and Libby for their work on the first two versions of RSS and more recent Netscape employees Chris Finke and Tom Drapeau for helping this transition. Though most RSS feeds use the current version today, thousands of feed publishers continue to employ RSS 0.9 and RSS 0.91. Long after Netscape closed the first incarnation of the My Netscape Network and had no business interest in RSS, the company contributed to the success of web syndication by keeping these documents online.

Sterling Camden, Simone Carletti Join RSS Advisory Board

Two new members have joined the RSS Advisory Board: Sterling "Chip" Camden and Simone Carletti.

Camden's a software developer who covers technology and programming topics for TechRepublic. He also writes about RSS frequently on his weblogs Chip's Quips and Chip's Tips.

A commercial programmer since 1978, Camden has created the OPML Blogroll and OPML Browser widgets for the WordPress weblog publishing platform. He's also a supporter of the yearly Providing Autism Research golf tournament in Pleasanton, Calif.

The first Italian to serve on the board, Carletti is a technical manager at Altura Labs and a contributor to the instructional web publishing site HTML.it. He specializes in RSS-related issues.

Carletti's also the author of the Italian translation of the RSS specification.

Welcome to the board!

WordPress Adds Atom:Link to RSS Feeds

WordPress support for the atom:link element in RSS feeds has gone live in both the standalone and multiuser versions of the software. The RSS Profile recommends that feeds include atom:link to identify the feed's URL.

<atom:link href="http://photomatt.net/feed/" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />

You can see the element in WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg's RSS feed, which is published with version "2.4-bleeding," and the Strange Maps feed published with WordPress MU. The official release of WordPress 2.4 is scheduled for December.

RSS Best Practices Profile Published

The proposal to endorse and publish the RSS Profile has passed 8-1 with RSS Advisory Board members Rogers Cadenhead, Christopher Finke, James Holderness, Eric Lunt, Randy Charles Morin, Paul Querna, Jake Savin and Jason Shellen voting in favor and Matthew Bookspan voting against.

The RSS Profile makes it easier for feed publishers and programmers to implement RSS 2.0, offering advice on issues that arise as you develop software that employs the format. For 18 months, the board worked with the RSS community on interoperability issues, receiving help from representatives at Bloglines, FeedBurner, Google, Microsoft, Netscape, Six Apart and Yahoo. The profile tackles the most frequently asked questions posed by developers:

  1. How many enclosures can an item contain?
  2. Are relative URLs OK in item descriptions?
  3. Is it OK to use HTML in elements other than an item's description?

For the answers, read the sections on enclosures, item descriptions and character data, respectively.

Sam Ruby announced this morning that the Feed Validator now tests for conformance to the profile, offering 11 new checks for improving interoperability.

If you'd like to comment on the profile and the new validator checks, post on the mailing list RSS-Public.

As part of the vote, the following sentence has been added to the About this document section of the RSS specification: "The RSS Profile contains a set of recommendations for how to create RSS documents that work best in the wide and diverse audience of client software that supports the format." No other changes were made and all edits to the specification are logged. This revision of the document has the version number 2.0.10.

With the publication of the profile, we're eager to work with companies and individual developers on the adoption of its recommendations. Also, we're looking for people who can write foreign language translations of the document, which has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Proposal: Publish the RSS Best-Practices Profile

The following RSS Advisory Board proposal has been made by Rogers Cadenhead and seconded by Randy Charles Morin.

Under the advisory board charter, the board has seven days to discuss the proposal followed by seven days to vote on it. Interested parties can comment on the proposal on the mailing list RSS-Public.

Proposal

For the last 18 months, the RSS Advisory Board has been drafting a set of best-practice recommendations for RSS. Working with the developers of browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, aggregators such as Bloglines and Google Reader, and blogging tools including Movable Type, we've looked for areas where questions about the RSS format have led to differences in how software has been implemented to produce and consume RSS feeds.

The result of our work is the RSS Profile. The lead authors are James Holderness, Morin, Geoffrey Sneddon and myself. The profile isn't a set of rules; it's a set of suggestions drafted by programmers and web publishers who've been working with RSS since the format's first release in 1999. Our goal is for the profile to be the second document programmers consult when they're learning how to implement RSS.

The profile tackles some long-standing issues in RSS implementation, including the proper number of enclosures per item, the meaning of the TTL element and the use of HTML markup in character data.

In addition to recommendations for the RSS elements documented in the specification, the profile includes advice for four common namespace elements: atom:link, content:encoded, dc:creator and slash:comments.

We propose that the board endorse and publish the RSS Profile, making it available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license so that others can build upon and extend it with their own recommendations.

Additionally, we propose that the following sentence be added to the About this document section of the specification, as a new fifth paragraph: "The RSS Profile contains a set of recommendations for how to create RSS documents that work best in the wide and diverse audience of client software that supports the format."

RSS News

Microsoft has announced that the user agent string for the next version of the RSS Platform will be "Windows-RSS-Platform/2.0 (MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.0)".

The platform will be used by Internet Explorer 8 to request the user's subscribed RSS feeds.

The web-based RSS reader Bloglines now offers a mobile version of its service optimized for Apple iPhone. You can read full-text feeds, search for feeds and specific text across all feeds, and turn on Skweezer, a service that makes web pages more readable on mobile devices.

The draft of the RSS Profile has been updated with a new recommendation for how aggregators should implement the TTL element.

The RSS Best Practices Profile has been revised and is close to being submitted to a vote of the RSS Advisory Board. Aggregator developers and RSS publishers who'd like to submit recommendations for inclusion in the document are encouraged to do so on the RSS-Public mailing list by July 1.

The newest draft of the RSS Profile includes tests conducted by James Holderness to determine how well the TTL element is supported in RSS.