Google has reversed its initial snub of the RSS format, enabling users for the first time to add Really Simple Syndication feeds from Google News.
Google now offers either Atom 0.3 or RSS 2.0 as feed options—a choice that Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li calls an interesting one and likely a “nod to [Googles] ongoing support of the Atom standard,” she wrote in her blog on Monday.
RSS and Atom provide a similar format for syndicating Web content in XML feeds to other sites and aggregation software called readers. The formats grew in popularity with the rise of blogging in recent years, but their rise has been marked by warring among the formats relevant loyalists.
Dave Winer, a major RSS developer and backer, called for an end to the hostilities, suggesting that the two formats merge in an effort managed through a Web standards body such as the Internet Engineering Task Force.
“Can we put aside our differences now, and come up with a format that honors the work thats been done in the past and today and makes it possible for things to be better in the future, without the wasted energy that comes from disagreement and disrespect?” Winer asked in a blog posting in March 2004. Winers suggestion came after Google in January 2004 decided to support Atom rather than RSS in its acquired Blogger Web logging software.
But now that Google has adopted RSS in both a test program for RSS advertising and in its news, Winer still isnt happy.
“… Why Im not giddy with delight over Google News support of RSS … [is] the same reason Im not giddy with delight that Microsoft decided to call their support of RSS web feeds, Winer posted in his blog after Google made the RSS move. “Like it or not, Google, the format is RSS 2.0. Look at how your position is eroding. Go all the way, and just give it up, and accept the gift, the way it was presented, without trying to edit, revise, fold, spindle or mutilate.”
Both Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.s MSN division have recently made moves toward RSS. MSN has started testing a Web-based RSS aggregator, while Yahoo has expanded into mobile access to the news feeds gathered on its My Yahoo personalized home page service.
Forresters Li points out that Yahoo doesnt allow users to add a feed of customized news pages, although it does allow for easy adding of news sections and search result feeds to My Yahoo. Google, on the other hand, still requires users to manually copy and post feed URLs into its personalized home page service, although, Li said, she expects that to change shortly.
Other major players such as Ask Jeeves have feeds from news as well. With all this competition jumping onto RSS, it was high time for Google to do the same.
“… With almost every other major player doing this, it was about time that Google followed suit,” Li said. “From our research, we found that RSS users are news junkies, with 43 percent of all adult RSS users in the [United States visiting] a national news site at least once a week, compared [with] just 14 percent of non-RSS-using online adults that do the same.”
Winer concurred. “… Its good to see both Microsoft and Google at least accepting RSS in part, if not wholeheartedly, as (for example) Yahoo has,” he said.