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Why is RSS 2.0 Bad? (Not a Rhetorical Question)

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  • Morbus Iff
    First off, some ground rules: - no dictator Winer comments. - no we need RDF comments. - no this isn t a community spec comments. And now, the question:
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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      First off, some ground rules:

      - no dictator Winer comments.
      - no "we need RDF" comments.
      - no "this isn't a community spec" comments.

      And now, the question:

      Why is RSS 2.0 bad?


      --
      Morbus Iff ( i'm the droid you're looking for )
      Culture: http://www.disobey.com/ and http://www.gamegrene.com/
      Please Me: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/wishlist/25USVJDH68554
      icq: 2927491 / aim: akaMorbus / yahoo: morbus_iff / jabber.org: morbus
    • Ben Hammersley
      ... I ve been away for three days, and might have missed a discussion about this already (hell, you should see my inbox *whoooo*) but anyway, my major concern
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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        On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 23:01 Europe/London, Dan Brickley wrote:

        > Morbus Iff wrote:
        >> First off, some ground rules:
        >>
        >> - no dictator Winer comments.
        >> - no "we need RDF" comments.
        >> - no "this isn't a community spec" comments.
        >>
        >> And now, the question:
        >>
        >> Why is RSS 2.0 bad?
        >
        > My concern: it introduces the ability to use XML namespaces for future
        > extensions, whilst simultaneously failing to use it for the extensions
        > introduced in 2.0. If those extensions were folded into an extension
        > module, 2.0 and 1.0 would be both technically and conceptually a lot
        > closer. The core of RSS doesn't need much more than 'item', 'channel',
        > 'link', 'title', 'description'. A simple common core could represent
        > that.
        >
        > Dan

        I've been away for three days, and might have missed a discussion about
        this already (hell, you should see my inbox *whoooo*) but anyway, my
        major concern is also with the namespaces. There appears to be no
        indication as to how modules should work. With RSS 1.0 there is, more
        or less (whoa there), a 'grammar' of sorts that tell us how to relate
        the data within, and how to describe the vocabulary with a schema. With
        2.0, there is no guidance, and no thought as to how to deal with the
        world when there are 50+ modules. Without blathering on
        semanticwebbaly, I really really like the potential for schema-aware
        readers that comes with RDF, and the discipline it imposes. I'm lacking
        that cosy feeling with 2.0.

        I agree with Dan's point too, it is one of real puzzlement.
      • Morbus Iff
        ... Ok. I agree with the base correlation: - RSS 2.0 allows you to use new modules, yay! - So, why aren t the new features in RSS 2.0, modules? But I m failing
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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          >> Why is RSS 2.0 bad?

          At 11:10 PM +0100 9/25/02, Dan Brickley wrote:
          >My concern: it introduces the ability to use XML namespaces for future
          >extensions, whilst simultaneously failing to use it for the extensions
          >introduced in 2.0. If those extensions were folded into an extension
          >module, 2.0 and 1.0 would be both technically and conceptually a lot
          >closer. The core of RSS doesn't need much more than 'item', 'channel',
          >'link', 'title', 'description'. A simple common core could represent

          Ok. I agree with the base correlation:

          - RSS 2.0 allows you to use new modules, yay!
          - So, why aren't the new features in RSS 2.0, modules?

          But I'm failing to see how that can be a "bad" thing, *technologically*.
          Yes, from a theory point of view, the extra elements would make sense to be
          in an optional namespace, to support the "core should be simple" ideal.
          But, technologically, RSS v2.0 is compatible with RSS v0.91, since all the
          added extra elements are optional.

          However, my main concern is "which simple is more simple?". From a
          developer standpoint, yes, having all the new 2.0 elements in a namespace
          pleases me. But, that's only because I know what a namespace is. I also
          know what XML is.

          From an end-user standpoint, I *like* the idea that:

          - I don't have to explain (or know) why <item> is different than <new:guid>

          *Someone* will ask that, and I'll know that they won't need to know that
          knowledge. But they're going to ask in the first place. And if I don't
          answer them, someone else will, and could possibly confuse them even more.

          Have you ever tried to explain to a normal end-user, who merely emails
          their grandfather down in Florida, WHY they should upgrade to the newest
          version of IE for Windows? They don't care about standards support or
          neater tech. *What they don't know isn't harming them*.

          Largely, namespaces in RSS 1.0 were used by people who already knew what a
          namespace was, or else, could read a "How do I make a RSS 1.0 module doc?".
          Primarily, as we've seen, RSS 1.0 modules are rarely supported, either by
          aggregators, or by users outside the initial module creator.

          Due to the above, I'm not convinced that having the new RSS 2.0
          elements in a namespace would improve RSS 2.0 one bit.

          At 11:10 PM +0100 9/25/02, Ben Hammersley wrote:
          >major concern is also with the namespaces. There appears to be no
          >indication as to how modules should work. With RSS 1.0 there is, more
          >or less (whoa there), a 'grammar' of sorts that tell us how to relate

          "how modules should work", to whom? The end-users, or the developers?

          --
          Morbus Iff ( shower your women, i'm coming )
          Culture: http://www.disobey.com/ and http://www.gamegrene.com/
          Tech: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/779 - articles and weblog
          icq: 2927491 / aim: akaMorbus / yahoo: morbus_iff / jabber.org: morbus
        • David Galbraith
          Here here, I think Dan s comments hit the nail on the head. Simple core, and rigorous definition of namespaces and modularity. My only quible with the core has
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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            Here here,

            I think Dan's comments hit the nail on the head.
            Simple core, and rigorous definition of namespaces and modularity.
            My only quible with the core has been that <link> is a bit nebulous and
            often redundant with respect to a <guid> or rdf about. For example there is
            often confusion as to whether a weblog posting is something in its own right
            or metadata about an item it links to.

            David

            -----Original Message-----
            From: Dan Brickley [mailto:danbri@...]
            Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 3:01 PM
            To: rss-dev@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [RSS-DEV] Why is RSS 2.0 Bad? (Not a Rhetorical Question)


            Morbus Iff wrote:
            > First off, some ground rules:
            >
            > - no dictator Winer comments.
            > - no "we need RDF" comments.
            > - no "this isn't a community spec" comments.
            >
            > And now, the question:
            >
            > Why is RSS 2.0 bad?

            My concern: it introduces the ability to use XML namespaces for future
            extensions, whilst simultaneously failing to use it for the extensions
            introduced in 2.0. If those extensions were folded into an extension
            module, 2.0 and 1.0 would be both technically and conceptually a lot
            closer. The core of RSS doesn't need much more than 'item', 'channel',
            'link', 'title', 'description'. A simple common core could represent that.

            Dan







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          • Ben Hammersley
            ... The developers. I m increasingly of the mind that the end-users, such as my mum, should neither see nor care about seeing the actual code. It s like caring
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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              On Wednesday, Sep 25, 2002, at 23:25 Europe/London, Morbus Iff wrote:
              > At 11:10 PM +0100 9/25/02, Ben Hammersley wrote:
              >> major concern is also with the namespaces. There appears to be no
              >> indication as to how modules should work. With RSS 1.0 there is, more
              >> or less (whoa there), a 'grammar' of sorts that tell us how to relate
              >
              > "how modules should work", to whom? The end-users, or the developers?

              The developers. I'm increasingly of the mind that the end-users, such
              as my mum, should neither see nor care about seeing the actual code.
              It's like caring whether a certain website is served from a Linux box
              or Windows. Most people don't, nor would even if they understood the
              question.
            • Morbus Iff
              ... Could you be more specific? Why not just replace 1.0 with 2.0 in this document: http://web.resource.org/rss/1.0/modules/ Or, if creating a module
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                >>> major concern is also with the namespaces. There appears to be no
                >>> indication as to how modules should work. With RSS 1.0 there is, more
                >>> or less (whoa there), a 'grammar' of sorts that tell us how to relate
                >>
                >> "how modules should work", to whom? The end-users, or the developers?
                >
                >The developers. I'm increasingly of the mind that the end-users, such

                Could you be more specific? Why not just
                replace "1.0" with "2.0" in this document:

                http://web.resource.org/rss/1.0/modules/

                Or, if "creating a module" isn't your concern, but rather "parsing or using
                a module", then why can't the same "replace 1.0 with 2.0" manipulation be
                done on those other explanatory documents as well? Would everything be all
                better if the RSS 2.0 spec linked to a regexp'd 1.0 Module Design doc?

                Why don't most "changing your website to XHTML" tutorial documents
                go into exquisite details on how to add-on to the XHTML spec?

                http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-modularization/

                Realize that the I do know there's a difference between the XHTML spec,
                which does describe add-ons (with a simple link to the full-fledged URL
                above, as do the RSS 1.0 docs full-fledge-link to the URL further above,
                and finally, as does RSS 2.0 which full-fledge-links to the W3C namespace
                spec), and a "tutorial" on making your website use XHTML. The XHTML spec is
                not meant to be read by normal people. RSS has always, it seems, had a
                undertone of "for normal people" (if it didn't, then why do so many people
                differentiate RSS v0.9x as "simpler" when compared to RSS 1.0
                "extensibility".)

                --
                Morbus Iff ( rootle-dee-tootle-dee-toot! )
                Culture: http://www.disobey.com/ and http://www.gamegrene.com/
                Tech: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/779 - articles and weblog
                icq: 2927491 / aim: akaMorbus / yahoo: morbus_iff / jabber.org: morbus
              • Ben Hammersley
                ... That s my point. I can t see why not either - but we can t just assume that that s the right approach, and the spec gives us no clues, nor any way of
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                  On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 00:13 Europe/London, Morbus Iff wrote:

                  >>>> major concern is also with the namespaces. There appears to be no
                  >>>> indication as to how modules should work. With RSS 1.0 there is,
                  >>>> more
                  >>>> or less (whoa there), a 'grammar' of sorts that tell us how to
                  >>>> relate
                  >>>
                  >>> "how modules should work", to whom? The end-users, or the developers?
                  >>
                  >> The developers. I'm increasingly of the mind that the end-users, such
                  >
                  > Could you be more specific? Why not just
                  > replace "1.0" with "2.0" in this document:
                  >

                  That's my point. I can't see why not either - but we can't just assume
                  that that's the right approach, and the spec gives us no clues, nor any
                  way of making a decision on such a thing. Or even raising the point. I
                  would have liked the 2.0 spec to have been closed when, and only when,
                  these things were totally worked out and documented.

                  As for the (now lost through careless snipping) point about why do
                  people go on about 0.9x's simplicity v 1.0, that's because the only
                  people who go on about it at all are those who read the specifications
                  and are interested in the raw thing. To most users RSS is the little
                  orange button to press to get the cool headline thing working that nice
                  Mr Iff's program. Most users have never seen an RSS feed. They just use
                  them all the time. To take only those who talk about the specs at all,
                  is to take a very self-selecting group. My dad loves RSS, he just
                  wouldn't recognise it over HTML if he viewed source. The simplicity of
                  the spec, for him, is meaningless.
                • Morbus Iff
                  ... Ok. Well, if you want, I can take the 1.0 Module Building doc, turn it into a 2.0 Module Building doc, and then that 2.0 roadblock will be removed. ...
                  Message 8 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                    >That's my point. I can't see why not either - but we can't just assume
                    >that that's the right approach, and the spec gives us no clues, nor any
                    >way of making a decision on such a thing. Or even raising the point. I
                    >would have liked the 2.0 spec to have been closed when, and only when,
                    >these things were totally worked out and documented.

                    Ok. Well, if you want, I can take the 1.0 Module Building doc, turn it into
                    a 2.0 Module Building doc, and then that "2.0 roadblock" will be removed.

                    >them all the time. To take only those who talk about the specs at all,
                    >is to take a very self-selecting group. My dad loves RSS, he just
                    >wouldn't recognise it over HTML if he viewed source. The simplicity of
                    >the spec, for him, is meaningless.

                    Where do you stand on the namespace/core issue? If the RSS source and spec
                    is meaningless to an end-user, it sounds like people are implying that
                    making it more meaningless (by requiring knowledge of namespaces) isn't a
                    downside.

                    --
                    Morbus Iff ( rootle-dee-tootle-dee-toot! )
                    Culture: http://www.disobey.com/ and http://www.gamegrene.com/
                    Tech: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/779 - articles and weblog
                    icq: 2927491 / aim: akaMorbus / yahoo: morbus_iff / jabber.org: morbus
                  • Ben Hammersley
                    ... Only if Dave accepts it into the spec. Sorry to bring that up, but it s as high as it is wide: there s no facility to do that without potentially starting
                    Message 9 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                      On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 00:33 Europe/London, Morbus Iff wrote:

                      >> That's my point. I can't see why not either - but we can't just assume
                      >> that that's the right approach, and the spec gives us no clues, nor
                      >> any
                      >> way of making a decision on such a thing. Or even raising the point. I
                      >> would have liked the 2.0 spec to have been closed when, and only when,
                      >> these things were totally worked out and documented.
                      >
                      > Ok. Well, if you want, I can take the 1.0 Module Building doc, turn it
                      > into
                      > a 2.0 Module Building doc, and then that "2.0 roadblock" will be
                      > removed.

                      Only if Dave accepts it into the spec. Sorry to bring that up, but it's
                      as high as it is wide: there's no facility to do that without
                      potentially starting up arguments again.

                      But it would be very very useful. Do it!


                      >> them all the time. To take only those who talk about the specs at all,
                      >> is to take a very self-selecting group. My dad loves RSS, he just
                      >> wouldn't recognise it over HTML if he viewed source. The simplicity of
                      >> the spec, for him, is meaningless.
                      >
                      > Where do you stand on the namespace/core issue? If the RSS source and
                      > spec
                      > is meaningless to an end-user, it sounds like people are implying that
                      > making it more meaningless (by requiring knowledge of namespaces)
                      > isn't a
                      > downside.

                      I wouldn't say that makes it more meaningless, but I know what you
                      mean. I'm in two minds. I can see that for people wishing to build very
                      lightweight clients, the choice of only implementing <title> <link> and
                      <description>, and yet still being sure that you have a fully
                      certifiable RSS reader, is very nice indeed. In that respect, shoving
                      everything else into namespaces is just a good excuse to leave things
                      unimplemented within apps. Not necessarily a bad thing.

                      But I can also see that namespaced xml might be a tad trickier to do
                      wacky stuff with. I'm more with the first than the second, but its 0045
                      and I'm too tired to have an opinion on anything with angle brackets.
                    • Ben Hammersley
                      ... An anonymous benefactor just privately pulled me up over this, citing the common wisdom that the web was a success because (HTML) was
                      Message 10 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                        On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 00:27 Europe/London, Ben Hammersley wrote:
                        > . My dad loves RSS, he just
                        > wouldn't recognise it over HTML if he viewed source. The simplicity of
                        > the spec, for him, is meaningless.

                        <much snippage/>

                        An anonymous benefactor just privately pulled me up over this, citing
                        the common wisdom that the web was a success because "(HTML) was
                        transparently understandable to people with a minimal technical
                        background". It's a common argument for simplicity uber alles within
                        RSS.

                        I disagree with it, however. Not with the premise - the transparent
                        nature of HTML taught me well too - but with the implication. The
                        amount of early web content created was due, yes, to the transparent
                        nature of HTML. Because people had no choice but to learn the code. But
                        that argument died years ago, and never really existed with RSS. Why?
                        Because of tools.

                        Nowadays, you never need see a single bit of HTML to make a web page.
                        With blogging tools you don't even need to consciously make a page. For
                        the vast majority of users, using Frontpage or Dreamweaver or whatever
                        to create their little project, the use of <em> over <b>, or <br/> over
                        <br> may well be transparent, but is utterly moot. Who cares? Not the
                        end user.

                        Now, the evolution of RSS has been very fast, and we left the notepad
                        and view source era years ago. RSS feeds are produced automatically by
                        tools created by developers, using templates created by developers, to
                        work on applications created by developers (most likely the same ones),
                        and then and only then do the general userbase get involved. No one
                        creates their RSS feed from scratch in notepad, the way I did sites in
                        1995, and to insist on simplicity for this reason alone is doing
                        ourselves a disservice.
                      • dondppark
                        ... page. .. ... notepad ... Ben, No one working with web pages today can avoid looking at the raw HTML no matter what tools they use. Yes, tools can reduce
                        Message 11 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                          --- In rss-dev@y..., Ben Hammersley <ben@b...> wrote:
                          > Nowadays, you never need see a single bit of HTML to make a web
                          page.
                          ..
                          > Now, the evolution of RSS has been very fast, and we left the
                          notepad
                          > and view source era years ago.

                          Ben,

                          No one working with web pages today can avoid looking at the raw
                          HTML no matter what tools they use. Yes, tools can reduce the need
                          to view raw HTML, but never remove it entirely because no tool is
                          perfect and handle unanticipated tasks.

                          By your argument, what is the point of using english names for the
                          tags? Why not use something like

                          <A123>Uranus</A123>?

                          Why bother using XML at all? Lets change XHTML 2.0 to be binary
                          since no one is going to be viewing the source code!

                          Best,

                          Don Park
                          Docuverse
                        • Phil Ringnalda
                          ... ... True. What they care about is the way that their page of 50 nested tables takes forever to load, or the way that the formatting in
                          Message 12 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                            Ben Hammersley wrote:
                            > On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 00:27 Europe/London, Ben Hammersley wrote:
                            >> . My dad loves RSS, he just
                            >> wouldn't recognise it over HTML if he viewed source. The simplicity of
                            >> the spec, for him, is meaningless.
                            >
                            > <much snippage/>
                            >

                            <more snippage/>

                            > Nowadays, you never need see a single bit of HTML to make a web page.
                            > With blogging tools you don't even need to consciously make a page. For
                            > the vast majority of users, using Frontpage or Dreamweaver or whatever
                            > to create their little project, the use of <em> over <b>, or <br/> over
                            > <br> may well be transparent, but is utterly moot. Who cares? Not the
                            > end user.

                            True. What they care about is the way that their page of 50 nested tables
                            takes forever to load, or the way that the formatting in their Blogger
                            template disappears whenever they post more than one paragraph, or the way
                            their geeky friends keep complaining that their quotes and dashes display as
                            ? instead.

                            > Now, the evolution of RSS has been very fast, and we left the notepad
                            > and view source era years ago. RSS feeds are produced automatically by
                            > tools created by developers, using templates created by developers, to
                            > work on applications created by developers (most likely the same ones),
                            > and then and only then do the general userbase get involved. No one
                            > creates their RSS feed from scratch in notepad, the way I did sites in
                            > 1995, and to insist on simplicity for this reason alone is doing
                            > ourselves a disservice.

                            The first RSS feed I created was done essentially by hand (in PHP, but the
                            code might as well have been typed on a manual typewriter), in my favorite
                            text editor at the time: Notepad. That was way back in January of 2002. I'm
                            still using the same code today, because no developer has stepped up to
                            write a better tool to create RSS from dotcomments. I would have done it as
                            RSS 1.0, because after all 1.0 is a better number than 0.91, but I couldn't
                            follow the spec well enough to be sure I was doing it right, and I couldn't
                            figure out *how* it would be better. A few months later when I wrote a
                            script to scrape my Blogger-produced blogs, I'm happy to say that I figured
                            out how to do 1.0, though I seem to have taken the advisory limits like 15
                            items and 500 characters so much to heart that I created two versions, a
                            severely crippled 1.0 and a rich and meaty 0.92. Now, after nine months of
                            playing with RSS, I generate most of mine from MovableType templates: a 1.0
                            template that I hope I've removed most of the errors and security leaks
                            from, a 2.0 template that I based roughly on the default 0.91 template, and
                            some comment and individual archive templates that I did myself from scratch
                            and copying other people's.

                            I am not a developer. I am not a professional. I am an interested amateur
                            publisher. I am your audience.

                            Phil Ringnalda
                          • Ben Hammersley
                            ... ... ... ... No, Phil, you *are* a developer. (Sorry to break this to you. :-) You re on this list. You re writing
                            Message 13 of 19 , Sep 25, 2002
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                              On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 05:51 Europe/London, Phil Ringnalda wrote:

                              > Ben Hammersley wrote:
                              >> On Thursday, Sep 26, 2002, at 00:27 Europe/London, Ben Hammersley
                              >> wrote:
                              >>> . My dad loves RSS, he just
                              >>> wouldn't recognise it over HTML if he viewed source. The simplicity
                              >>> of
                              >>> the spec, for him, is meaningless.
                              >>
                              >> <much snippage/>
                              >>
                              >
                              > <more snippage/>
                              <even more snippage/ >

                              > The first RSS feed I created was done essentially by hand (in PHP, but
                              > the
                              > code might as well have been typed on a manual typewriter),
                              <snip/>
                              > A few months later when I wrote a script to scrape my
                              > Blogger-produced blogs,
                              <snip/>
                              > I hope I've removed most of the errors and security leaks
                              > from, a 2.0 template that I based roughly on the default 0.91
                              > template, and
                              > some comment and individual archive templates that I did myself from
                              > scratch
                              > and copying other people's.
                              >
                              > I am not a developer. I am not a professional. I am an interested
                              > amateur
                              > publisher. I am your audience.
                              >
                              > Phil Ringnalda

                              No, Phil, you *are* a developer. (Sorry to break this to you. :-)
                              You're on this list. You're writing scripts to scrape Blogger. You
                              contribute to specifications. You're correcting errors in the MT
                              template. You're as professional as they come when it comes to this.
                              Everyone here is.

                              What I'm trying to address is the fundamental difference between RSS
                              and HTML - which is that no one other than the member of this list, and
                              the sort of people who write their own CMSs need ever look at it. It's
                              just not something the average guy would ever have reason to create by
                              hand (and not one single person reading this post can claim to be an
                              average guy.)

                              Because of this, I'm just saying that to be forever looking to simplify
                              the spec to a point where your average consumer can view source and
                              learn the spec is pointless and indeed harmful if done at the expense
                              of other stuff. Because on the internet, since HTML, the average
                              consumer has become a whole load more average.
                            • Marcus Campbell
                              ... I agree. (Forgive me if I meander or am complete OT, but I fancy a go at posting...) When you talk on the phone you don t care how it works, you just know
                              Message 14 of 19 , Sep 26, 2002
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                                > Because of this, I'm just saying that to be forever looking to simplify
                                > the spec to a point where your average consumer can view source and
                                > learn the spec is pointless and indeed harmful if done at the expense
                                > of other stuff. Because on the internet, since HTML, the average
                                > consumer has become a whole load more average.

                                I agree.

                                (Forgive me if I meander or am complete OT, but I fancy a go at
                                posting...)

                                When you talk on the phone you don't care how it works, you just know
                                that you type in a number and you get to speak to someone. The actual
                                transfer system is irrelevant to the user.

                                Now, say you start sending video over the phone lines... do the users
                                care that the specs and technology behind it get more complicated? Not
                                as long as they only have to rely on dialing a number they won't, they
                                just like the fact that they can see the person they're talking to.

                                As long as the developers can, and do, make the video phones (and
                                networks) then the user is happy. It could be a pixie in a box that
                                uses magic pixie dust to get it to work. They shouldn't have to care.

                                Similarly developers shouldn't need something that anyone and everyone
                                has to understand. Nor should they make the basic format more
                                complicated than anything they could _actually_ make use of.
                                Developers should be able to make the tools that handle the data that
                                creates the system. If they can't, they should be able to use someone
                                else's tools. Even developers shouldn't have to resort to pushing raw
                                data all the time.

                                Making the specs extensible is good - very good - but that doesn't
                                mean it's of any of use to argue its merits now or jump right in with
                                modules that are only going to be useful some time in the future...
                                maybe. Create the killer app. Get the format that works, works well
                                and could be extended to work in future. It doesn't need to be
                                overly-complicated or overly-theoretical and it doesn't need to be
                                overly-"simple" (although I would like to see something without
                                obsolete or proprietary bloat). It just needs to work.
                              • mof-rss-dev@mfd-consult.dk
                                Ben Hammersley wrote on Thu, 26 Sep 2002 02:38:11 +0100 ... I agree with your disagreement. The simplicity of HTML was great for its
                                Message 15 of 19 , Sep 26, 2002
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                                  Ben Hammersley <ben@...> wrote on Thu, 26 Sep 2002 02:38:11 +0100
                                  in :
                                  >An anonymous benefactor just privately pulled me up over this, citing
                                  >the common wisdom that the web was a success because "(HTML) was
                                  >transparently understandable to people with a minimal technical
                                  >background". It's a common argument for simplicity uber alles within
                                  >RSS.
                                  I agree with your disagreement.

                                  The "simplicity" of HTML was great for its quick widespread production,
                                  but as mentioned elsewhere, it's a pain to consume.

                                  This is, I believe, because simplicity is confused with "optional" and
                                  other lax definitions, either in the definition or the use.

                                  I would have thought that a lesson was learned there, that what is
                                  really needed is *strict* definitions, at least if it is in any way
                                  meant to be consumed by machines.

                                  I.e. a <description> element that is not defined as to its contents,
                                  and a <link> element that can point anywhere, is useless in practice,
                                  even though it's easy to produce.

                                  This is why I like vocabularies like the Dublin Core, which provide
                                  precise definitions for syntax and semantics. They may be somewhat more
                                  difficult to produce, perhaps needing date format conversion, but they
                                  are easily used.

                                  This is also why I dislike RSS 0.9x - it's too loose, it is unusable
                                  for anything *but* "the display of headlines in a browser for human
                                  consumption", and why I think that the path of RSS 1.0 is better.

                                  Why couldn't (X)HTML be used instead of RSS 0.9x?
                                  <html>
                                  <head>
                                  <title>My Blog</title>
                                  <meta name="DC.description" value="Various ramblings by Me" />
                                  </head>
                                  <body>
                                  <p>
                                  <a href="http://example.com/">
                                  <strong>Example "item" title</strong>
                                  </a>
                                  Example item description...
                                  </p>
                                  <address>me@...</address>
                                  </body>
                                  </html>
                                  And no, this is not a general suggestion for a new "competing"
                                  format...

                                  This may be the defining difference between the branches - the possible
                                  use of the "metadata" as *real* machine readable metadata for use with
                                  The Semantic Web(tm)?!?


                                  Regards,

                                  Morten Frederiksen
                                  ---
                                  A bird in the hand's better than one overhead.
                                  --
                                  <URL: http://www.mfd-consult.dk/ >
                                • Libby Miller
                                  ... makes sense to me....looks somewhat like the xhtml profiles Dan Connolly has been using (and I ripped off for events module):
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Sep 26, 2002
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                                    >
                                    > This is also why I dislike RSS 0.9x - it's too loose, it is unusable
                                    > for anything *but* "the display of headlines in a browser for human
                                    > consumption", and why I think that the path of RSS 1.0 is better.
                                    >
                                    > Why couldn't (X)HTML be used instead of RSS 0.9x?

                                    makes sense to me....looks somewhat like the xhtml profiles Dan Connolly
                                    has been using (and I ripped off for events module):

                                    http://www.w3.org/2000/08/w3c-synd/
                                    http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe/200207/rsscal/xslt-rss-events.html

                                    Libby
                                  • mof-rss-dev@mfd-consult.dk
                                    Libby Miller wrote on Thu, 26 Sep 2002 17:18:48 +0100 (BST) ... True, that s much along the same lines, except for the fact that
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Sep 26, 2002
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                                      Libby Miller <libby.miller@...> wrote on Thu, 26 Sep 2002 17:18:48 +0100 (BST)
                                      in :
                                      >> Why couldn't (X)HTML be used instead of RSS 0.9x?
                                      >makes sense to me....looks somewhat like the xhtml profiles Dan Connolly
                                      >has been using (and I ripped off for events module):
                                      True, that's much along the same lines, except for the fact that Your
                                      profiles are meant (?) to be embedded into a "real" HTML page, whereas
                                      I was suggesting a "lite" version (probably also suitable for PDAs and
                                      such).

                                      Of course, there is no reason as to why the "lite" version couldn't be
                                      a fragment of the "real" page.


                                      Regards,

                                      Morten Frederiksen
                                      ---
                                      Adhesive tagline. Lick this XXXX!
                                      --
                                      <URL: http://www.mfd-consult.dk/ >
                                    • Dan Brickley
                                      ... I think this could be a very profitable area to explore... The XHTML Basic spec s abstract, copied below, calls out some use cases that are close to those
                                      Message 18 of 19 , Sep 26, 2002
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                                        On Thu, 26 Sep 2002 mof-rss-dev@... wrote:

                                        > Libby Miller <libby.miller@...> wrote on Thu, 26 Sep 2002 17:18:48 +0100 (BST)
                                        > in :
                                        > >> Why couldn't (X)HTML be used instead of RSS 0.9x?
                                        > >makes sense to me....looks somewhat like the xhtml profiles Dan Connolly
                                        > >has been using (and I ripped off for events module):
                                        > True, that's much along the same lines, except for the fact that Your
                                        > profiles are meant (?) to be embedded into a "real" HTML page, whereas
                                        > I was suggesting a "lite" version (probably also suitable for PDAs and
                                        > such).
                                        >
                                        > Of course, there is no reason as to why the "lite" version couldn't be
                                        > a fragment of the "real" page.

                                        I think this could be a very profitable area to explore...

                                        The XHTML Basic spec's abstract, copied below, calls out some use cases
                                        that are close to those we see with RSS and content syndication.

                                        http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-basic/
                                        [[
                                        Abstract

                                        The XHTML Basic document type includes the minimal set of modules required
                                        to be an XHTML host language document type, and in addition it includes
                                        images, forms, basic tables, and object support. It is designed for Web
                                        clients that do not support the full set of XHTML features; for example,
                                        Web clients such as mobile phones, PDAs, pagers, and settop boxes. The
                                        document type is rich enough for content authoring.

                                        XHTML Basic is designed as a common base that may be extended. For
                                        example, an event module that is more generic than the traditional HTML 4
                                        event system could be added or it could be extended by additional modules
                                        from XHTML Modularization such as the Scripting Module. The goal of XHTML
                                        Basic is to serve as a common language supported by various kinds of user
                                        agents.

                                        The document type definition is implemented using XHTML modules as defined
                                        in "Modularization of XHTML" [XHTMLMOD].
                                        ]]

                                        Similarities:

                                        * the need for a simple, restricted subset of content (for PDAs etc)
                                        * the need for it to be rich enough to support needs of content authors
                                        * architecture that supports principled, modular extension



                                        Another excerpt:

                                        [[
                                        1.2. Background and Requirements

                                        Information appliances are targeted for particular uses. They support the
                                        features they need for the functions they are designed to fulfill. The
                                        following are examples of different information appliances:

                                        Mobile phones
                                        Televisions
                                        PDAs
                                        Vending machines
                                        Pagers
                                        Car navigation systems
                                        Mobile game machines
                                        Digital book readers
                                        Smart watches

                                        Existing subsets and variants of HTML for these clients include Compact
                                        HTML [CHTML], the Wireless Markup Language [WML], and the "HTML 4.0
                                        Guidelines for Mobile Access" [GUIDELINES]. The common features found in
                                        these document types include:

                                        Basic text (including headings, paragraphs, and lists)
                                        Hyperlinks and links to related documents
                                        Basic forms
                                        Basic tables
                                        Images
                                        Meta information
                                        ]]


                                        My sense is that there are two main paths ahead for RSS-like formats: a
                                        data-oriented path, via RDF and the 'Semantic Web'; and a
                                        document-oriented path, via profiles of modular XHTML formats. The third
                                        'go it alone' path is one I'm finding less and less attractive. XML
                                        *allows* us all to create and promote new file formats; it's easy to slip
                                        from that into assuming that such proliferation of content type is a good thing.


                                        Dan


                                        --
                                        mailto:danbri@...
                                        http://www.w3.org/People/DanBri/
                                      • Dan Brickley
                                        ... My concern: it introduces the ability to use XML namespaces for future extensions, whilst simultaneously failing to use it for the extensions introduced in
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Sep 26, 2002
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                                          Morbus Iff wrote:
                                          > First off, some ground rules:
                                          >
                                          > - no dictator Winer comments.
                                          > - no "we need RDF" comments.
                                          > - no "this isn't a community spec" comments.
                                          >
                                          > And now, the question:
                                          >
                                          > Why is RSS 2.0 bad?

                                          My concern: it introduces the ability to use XML namespaces for future
                                          extensions, whilst simultaneously failing to use it for the extensions
                                          introduced in 2.0. If those extensions were folded into an extension
                                          module, 2.0 and 1.0 would be both technically and conceptually a lot
                                          closer. The core of RSS doesn't need much more than 'item', 'channel',
                                          'link', 'title', 'description'. A simple common core could represent that.

                                          Dan
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