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RSS Won the Syndication Standards Battle

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RSS appears to have conquered the last hurtle in becoming the industry syndication standard.

Microsoft’s inclusion of RSS into the newest version of Internet Explorer and reports that RSS will be in Longhorn’s coming release appears to be the final nail in the coffin of the Atom specification. Even Atom’s steadfast supporter Google, appears to have seen the light. Google had previously acquired Blogger, a popular blogging tool that uses the Atom specification to syndicate the contents of blogs created on the Blogger platform. In the past Google had strategically steered clear of endorsing the RSS specification hoping that Atom, would take hold.

Google’s recent new service that allows web surfers to monitor Google News using either RSS or Atom feeds, appears to be an acknowledgment that perhaps in purchasing Blogger, they chose the wrong specification.

The adoption of a syndication standard was slowed by the struggle between Atom and RSS. Two defined syndication standards vying for the number one position. In an IT industry that clearly favors single standard solutions, Atom supporters claimed added flexibility, but RSS’ wide sweeping support from heavy hitters like Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo. Along with the popularity surge of podcasting, which is based on the RSS 2.0 specification appears to have sealed the fate of the future syndication standard.

The history and relationship between RSS and Atom is a sordid tale that has hindered the progress of an online syndication standard. Now that the leader has been defined their is little in the way of RSS’ growth. Businesses leery of becoming entwined in a standards struggle are now embracing RSS as a communication channel.

It is clear that those who have lined up behind RSS as the leading specification are the winners.

Oddly enough, while those entrenched in the industry acknowledge the difficulties with a dual standard, users rarely see a difference in feeds created using the Atom and RSS standards. Most popular RSS readers support reading feeds in both formats. Though the purpose of RSS and Atom is the same, the specification itself is very different, making it difficult and time consuming for tool developers to move between the dual standard.

Now that Atom’s attempt at replacing RSS has fallen flat, the syndication arena will likely see significant innovation and progress.

Large companies are taking advantage of RSS’ extendibility using namespaces adding needed tags. Apple has done this with iTunes, Microsoft for ordered lists, and Yahoo with MediaRSS. All use the same basic RSS 2.0 format but supports defined RSS’ future is bright with many companies working proactively to unite a once divided standard.

Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing,
publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon
manages marketing for FeedForDev http://www.feedfordev.com
an RSS component for developers.

RSS Won the Syndication Standards Battle
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