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[Off-topic]: Directory inclusion, outlines, XML, etc

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  • Dave Winer
    A perhaps little-known fact about the directory at SoapWare.Org -- it s an (imho) innovative use of XML. I edit the directory in the outliner that s baked into
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5 9:34 AM
      A perhaps little-known fact about the directory at SoapWare.Org -- it's an (imho) innovative use of XML.
      I edit the directory in the outliner that's baked into Radio UserLand. Here's a screen shot.
      And (here's the interesting part) I can include directories maintained by other people.
      For example, the list of implementations is maintained by Paul Kulchenko, who's also famous for Perl::Lite.
      Paul has a web app that generates the data in a format called OPML. It's the native file format for the Radio outliner, mentioned above. OPML was designed to be the file format for a piece of software that already existed, in a category that I know a lot about, outliners. Trace back through history and you'll find that the outliner in Word was inspired by a product I wrote with Bob Bierman in 1985, called Ready. Over the years we've had lots of text-based export formats for outlines, I've done five outliners, but this time around we decided to do two things differently:
      1. The native file format would be text-based and
      2. That format would be XML.
      That's all working and deployed now, more info on editing directories in Radio:
      ***The outline runtime in Manila
      Anyway, completely separate from Radio, a new part of Manila (to be released in Frontier 7) is a directory runtime. It renders the OPML source as a navigatable tree-structure of web pages, as exemplified by the SoapWare directory. In fact, every Manila site has this feature, and there are lots of directories scattered around our community. We hope to have them coalesce at some point into a top-level directory at SuperOpenDirectory.Com, which is a UserLand site, but here's the cool thing about the way it works, like the Web, there's no reason for there to be a single top-level, in fact one could include any of our directories, such as SoapWare.Org, in other directories, hosted on other servers, in other scripting environments. All you'd have to do is clone our directory browsre (the one baked into Manila) and we'd like to work with people on exactly that.
      Philosophically, I think the Web has always been held back because directories were centralized. I want to see as many roots to the global directory as there are websites. Maybe that's hoping for a lot, so I'll settle for more than Yahoo, DMOZ and Looksmart.
      Anyway, the reason I mention this here is twofold:
      1. This is a smart group of XML-savvy people and I think this is an interesting use of XML, and
      2. The SoapWare.Org directory is open on both ends. It can be included in other directories, if you'd like to, please do. And from the other end, it can seamlessly include other directories, so if you'd like to volunteer to keep one part current, or produce an OPML rendering of content you're already maintaining, we are ready to work with you. It's a bootstrap, and bootstraps can be fun.
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