Tuesday, 03 May 2005, 13:06:51 EDT

I intended to never add support for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to my site. I believe that RSS gives people a reason not to visit the actual site because they can, usually, get all the information they want from the RSS feed. Well, I decided today to go against that intention and add and RSS feed. I realize that most of the people who read this site read only the front page. I don't think I should put you all through the trouble of constantly visting a site to see if there are any updates when such a thing can be done passively.

For those of you that don't know what I am talking about, an RSS feed is sort of like one of those news reels at the bottom of the television screen on the evening news. The feed is plain text formatted in such a way that an RSS reader (program) can parse the information and present it in various ways. An RSS feed can contain all sorts of information such as the article post date, a summary of the article or the full text of the article, the author of the article, and a whole bunch more. Some web browsers, such as Firefox and Safari, have started supporting these RSS feeds. When you visit a page with these RSS enabled browsers they detect if the site offers a feed and present you with a way to subscribe to and read it.

Personally, I think the RSS support in Firefox is horrible. I have also never found an RSS reader that really worked in such a fashion that I would want to use it all the time. They just added yet another application to my list that I always have open. The RSS support in Safari, however, is quite good. It is partly to blame for me finally deciding to add an RSS feed to this web site.

Any way, without getting in to a buch of technical details, there are two primary formats for RSS feeds: RSS 2.0 and Atom. RSS 2.0 is the final specification in the "RSS" line and will probably die off in a year or two. Atom is essentially RSS 2.0 from the ground up and will be extended in to the future. I support both formats on this site but only for compatiblity reasons. I would prefer it if you use the Atom feed. I am only sending the first 256 characters of the latest ten posts via the feed. I mean for this feed to be nothing more than a way for you all to be able to be notified when I have posted something new to the site if you so desire. If you are using an RSS enabled browser then you probably already know how to access the feed but here are instructions for Firefox and instructions for Safari.

And, finally, here are the links to the feeds: Atom and RSS 2.0.


I looked at RSS 2.0 a while back and realized the options of the feed far exceed what firefox nativly does. John assures me there is a seperate RSS reader the Firefox team has co-developed, and that Firefox only supports "Live bookmarking" - not true RSS.

Posted by Mr Frosti on Thursday, 05 May 2005, 7:39:43 EDT.

Correct. Sage is the full XUL based RSS reader. But, it suffers from the problem that kept me from using the technology for so long -- it is a separate UI that I would need to keep track of. The Safari team did things right.

Posted by James Sumners on Thursday, 05 May 2005, 7:53:04 EDT.