Alternate News Feed Supporters Stick with IETF

Backers of Atom, a rival XML syndication format to RSS, decide against a switch to the W3C as the IETF gives its blessing to start Web standards work.

Developers behind the XML syndication format called Atom have moved forward with their work to create a Web standard through the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Atom supporters turned down earlier overtures from the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) to create a standards working group through that standards body, opting instead to stick with IETF, Atom backer Tim Bray said in an e-mail interview this week.

"There were no hard feelings, and it could easily have gone the other way," Bray said. "At the current time, we are firmly in the IETF."

Atom is an alternative format to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) for publishing an XML-based syndication feed. Weblogs and news Web sites commonly use these feeds to send instantaneous headlines and summaries of news postings and stories.

/zimages/4/28571.gifThe advent of multiple formats has created some heated rivalry. Click here to read more.

The Atom community had already requested the creation of an IETF working group when the W3C proposed in May that the Atom work move to its process. That stalled the IETFs creation of a working group as the standards bodies and Atom supporters mulled the proposal.

But last month, the IETFs Internet Engineering Steering Group formally blessed the creation of the Atom Publishing Format and Protocol (AtomPub) Working Group after the W3C and IETF consulted with one another, Bray said.

Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems Inc., is chairing the working group along with Paul Hoffman. Bray publicly discussed the groups formation and progress on his Ongoing Weblog this week.

Work has already begun to create two main specifications—one for a syndication format and another for a publishing protocol.

The working group in late June began circulating drafts of its specifications, available here, and is revising them in time for the IETFs San Diego meeting in August. The drafts are currently marked "unstable," but Bray said the group is pushing to publish stable drafts of Atoms specifications by the end of October.

The Atom community isnt alone in trying to create standards around the use of XML-based syndication feeds.

On Thursday, photo-sharing site Flickr announced a partnership with Feedburner to develop a standard for photo syndications. Using a method called "splicing," the services already have begun offering users a way to combine photo feeds and existing RSS feeds into a single syndication feed for content and image sharing, they said.

Flickr is a service from Ludicorp Research & Development Ltd., of Vancouver, that uses online social networking and collaboration tools for sharing photos.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Flickrs preview release.

Feedburner, from Chicago-based Burning Door Syndication Services Inc., provides syndication services on top of RSS and Atom feeds, such as translation among formats and statistics tracking.

The two companies said they are working to turn their "splicing" work into a standards effort. They plan to seek public comment on a draft of syndication namespace extensions that would allow a richer combination of photo sharing and metadata.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.


Be sure to add our messaging and collaboration news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page