Bloglines Tackles RSS Bandwidth Issue

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-09-28 Print this article Print

The startup opens its syndication-feed aggregation service to desktop news readers, hoping to curb the bandwidth demands on feed publishers.

A Weblog aggregation startup is partnering with some of the leading news reader applications to address the bandwidth consumption of XML syndication feeds. Bloglines announced on Tuesday that it has expanded its Web services program so that news readers can connect to its free online service for searching and subscribing to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Atom feeds.
It has signed up three desktop applications: FeedDemon, NetNewsWire and blogbot. The news readers plan to connect to Bloglines through a set of open APIs and Web services.
Bloglines, which started in June 2003 under the umbrella of technology incubator Trustic Inc., aggregates RSS and Atom feed subscriptions from its users, then checks once an hour for an updated feed from a publisher, said Mark Fletcher, CEO of the Redwood City, Calif., company. "Our system acts essentially as an RSS cache and completely eliminates the RSS bandwidth issue," Fletcher said. "We want people to be publishing more RSS feeds, and thats good for the whole industry, and we believe that it makes sense for us to work with some of the desktop aggregators." Bloglines itself does not offer a desktop reader, instead allowing users to access their feed subscriptions through the Web. But the latest Web services program both provides another way for users to read their feeds and helps cut down on the bandwidth demands on feed publishers, Fletcher said. As the popularity of XML syndications has increased, the bandwidth requirements RSS and Atom puts on publishers has become an issue. In the most common RSS model, each news reader checks a feed-publishers servers for updates. Most check once an hour by default, though most also let users increase the frequency of polling to as often as every few minutes. RSS is catching on in enterprises. Click here to read more. Some other publishers, especially smaller bloggers, have cut back on the size of feeds and raised concerns about the scalability of RSS feeds as the number of subscribers grows. Earlier this month, Microsoft Corp. joined the debate when its Microsoft Developers Network initially pared the size of its rollup RSS feed, only to return to full text following feedback. Bloglines aggregates about 280,000 syndication feeds and has stored 110 million blog entries, and the number increases as users decide to subscribe to new feeds, Fletcher said. Along with centralizing the feeds on its server, Bloglines also lets users search feeds by keyword and provides personalized recommendations to users on other feeds. What about RSS and advertising? Click here to read more about the rise in contextual ads within feeds. Bloglines had previously offered Web services for notification applications that indicated when users had unread feed entries in their Bloglines subscriptions, Fletcher said. The expanded Web services program is offered for free to any news reader developers and applications, he said. FeedDemon already has added Bloglines Web services support, while NetNewsWire and blogbot plan to add the support within the next 30 days. Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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