Private Feeds, and Atom as Open Pipe

January 25th, 2005

Tim Bray has a short entry on Private Syndication this morning, which I by and large agree with. Personal feeds make sense; they make sense from the perspective of business workflow , content model, and a scalability.

In order to make it happen we really need an updated list of what aggregator support which key features. HTTPAuth (at least Basic, if not Digest) and SSL are the fundamental building blocks of private feeds, with the addition that the major aggregator services need to be aware that content could be negoiated at auth time. The only list I know of is from July 2003.

I was puzzled and pleased to see his closing line:

One detail: I think that for this kind of content-critical, all-business feed, Atom is a more attractive choice than any of the RSS flavors.

Which is odd, because all of the time I’ve spent with the Atom community (which was admittedly still called Pie/Echo at the time) was focused on blogs to the exclusion of all else, and all arguments I made about the potential of pushing other forms of data over this new format were ignored/squelched.

For example, an Atom feed, requires every entry to have an author element, which is defined as a Person contruct. Who is the “person” in an Atom feed generated by your “bank account, credit card, or stock portfolio”?

Additionally perhaps the language of the spec needs to be updated with some namespace best practices, and some non-blog examples?

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