Is RSS 2.0 too ambiguous?

19 09 2005

If even the father of RSS 2.0 is not sure whether an empty <title> element makes a feed valid or not, you might be justified if you are skeptical about the robustness of its design:

Dave Winer: “A note to the people who maintain the Gillmor Gang podcast feed — the channel-level title element is required. I suppose technically your feed is valid if it has an empty title, but it makes my aggregator unhappy. (Folders with empty names are frowned on by the operating system.) Could you please help me out and include a nice title, something like The Gillmor Gang, for example. Thanks. (While you’re at it, the channel-level description is required as well.)”

While the Gillmor Gang folks would do well in using a meaningful title, the really sad point here is that having such a poorly designed format be so popular makes the job of people developing aggregators unnecessarily difficult.

An aggregator that uses a feed’s title as the name of a folder where said feed’s item are stored is also highly suspect, as far as proper software design is concerned.

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2 responses

21 09 2005
Ellis Pritchard

My question is, why is Dave storing the content on the file-system using the Channel Title field, which is hardly going to be unique, rather than the feed URL, which is? Seems like Dave’s aggregator is broken, not RSS 2.0 …

22 09 2005
scott

RSS 2.0 was designed to be human readable and very little thought went into how this technology could be used beyond its intended application, blogging. If you want to support a real standard that is not owned by a bitter, ego-driven blogger then choose the Atom syndication and publishing formats. You can simply export to RSS 2.0 until it has been completely obsoleted.

http://www.atomenabled.org/developers/syndication/atom-format-spec.php

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