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Re: [RSS-DEV] Why is RSS 2.0 Bad? (Not a Rhetorical Question)

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  • Ben Hammersley
    ... ... ... ... No, Phil, you *are* a developer. (Sorry to break this to you. :-) You re on this list. You re writing
    Message 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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/
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