RSS, OPML and the XML platform.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
Jim Woolley, the owner of Feedpass tells me "the terms of purchase require the new owner to keep existing pages fully operational for a period of 5 years or provide permanent redirects back to the original feed URL. This is only required if the new owners make changes to the site that would lead to a disruption in service. So whatever happens, existing Feedpass users will not find their links broken and access to their feeds interrupted."
One of the great features of the Web 2.0 movement, is the desire of companies to listen and respond to feedback in the blogosphere and from customers in general. Most of the successful Web 2.0 companies are participating in this conversation. Most of the unsuccessful Web 2.0 companies are not participating in this conversation.
A prime example is FeedBurner. FeedBurner is a great service, but like anything built using software, it's got bugs. Software bugs annoy customers, just as live bugs annoy campers. But when you speak up, FeedBurner usually responds immediately and tries to help their customer. It's a neat concept and a big reason why I'm such a FeedBurner fan.
Other Web 2.0 companies making this effort recently.
OK other than Jeremy Zawodny, does any other Yahoo! employee answer customer emails? Over a month ago, I found that the KBCafe.com website became under-indexed by Yahoo! Not de-indexed, but almost all of my webpages were removed from their index. I sent a few emails to various Yahoo! support email addresses. I got one email back from Jeremy giving me the email address where I should best be sending my feedback. I sent them several more emails and they never acknowledged receiving any of them, never mind replying to them. So, I'm under-indexed by Yahoo! for unknown reasons and Yahoo! isn't interested in the conversation.
Worse, there's ExpoActive. This last week, I started the painful process of replacing all my ExpoActive ads with alternatives. Why? ExpoActive like FeedBurner has bugs, but when I blog about them or send them support emails, they never respond. At one point, I use to have one website in their top 10 publishers and another in the top 20 publishers. Having two of their top 20 publisher websites you would think they would answer support emails from me, or at least acknowledge my queries with an automated response. After countless support emails sent, I have never received a reply of any kind.
I noticed that Plusmo is getting a lot of eyes from the blogosphere. I'm looking to add it's chicklet to the RSS chicklet generator. In the meanwhile, here's the code you need to add your own Plusmo chicklet to your sidebar.
<p><a href="http://plusmo.com/add?url=<URL>"><img src="http://plusmo.com/res/graphics
/fbplusmo.gif"border="0" alt="Add to your phone" title="Add to your phone" /></a></p>
Shortly after I wrote State of Blogosphere Search IV, Technorati imploded. Within hours it was no longer reporting any results in the last 27 days. Currently, it's not reporting any results at all.
I assume this is related to the recent upgrade.
Update: Technorati has recovered.
A couple weeks ago, I asked my readers to provide some blogosphere search queries that I would then use to test the effectiveness of the blogosphere search engines; Technorati, Google blog search, Ice Rocket and others. The lone respondent was Sterling Camden (Blogger of the day, June 11 2006), so I'll be exclusively using the two searches he provided in this test. He suggested a search for his two primary blogging domains; chipsquips.com and chipstips.com. And here's the result grid. I tried to create the best search query string for each search engine. Feel free to suggest better search string and other search engines, which I'll quickly add to the list. Last, feel free to add your own interpretations of the results in the comments.
|Google blog search||http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=chipsquips.com||http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=chipstips.com||B|
No new links in the last week, but it is capturing some links including links posted to del.icio.us and they seem to be spam free. Grade: C+.
Capturing a lot of links, including ones posted to del.icio.us and my comments. Some are self-referential and none contain spam. Grade: A.
No new links in the last week, but it is capturing some links including links posted to del.icio.us and they seem to be spam free. Almost identical to Blogdigger. Grade: C+.
Google blog search
Capturing a lot of links. Some are self-referential and none contain spam. The Next button wasn't working for me. That's a major problem. Grade: B.
Capturing some in-coming links, but mostly self-referential links. That's a major problem. Grade: C.
No new links in the last week, but it is capturing some links and the results are spam free. Grade: C.
Broken. Grade: F.
Capturing a lot of links. The referring URL is always the homepage of the blog and not the blog entry. This makes it very difficult to actually find the link and sometimes the link has moved off the blog homepage and it becomes near impossible to find. That's a major problem. Results are spam free. Grade: B.
It's amazing how every time I run this test I get completely different results. In the past, Ice Rocket and Google blog search have shown well, but Ice Rocket seems to be degrading and Google blog search had a major bug. On the other hand, Technorati and Bloglines have usually shown poor results, but performed much better for Sterling. Thanks Sterling for the independent starting point.
Actually, a second reader responded to my quest for blogosphere search queries. That was David Sifry, the founder and CEO of Technorati. Dave asked for a sample query that was full of SERP (search engine result page) spam. I responded with http://www.technorati.com/search/%22Yahoo%21%20Finance%20Widget%22. Over a week later, that query remains spam ridden. It seems anytime someone posts anything negative about Technorati, Dave is there to ask how he can make it better. The problem? Technorati never seems to act on the user feedback. But then, maybe this time it did get better.
Previous state of blogosphere search blog entries.
Update: It appears Technorati's index is missing all entries for the last 28 days. I did a dozen+ searches and all results are now 28 days old. Also, the Next button is working for Google blog search again. I won't change the original post, but considering this new information Google blog search should be rated A- and Technorati B-.
â¦by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successor's) businessâ¦ in any media formats and through any media channels.
Bloggers across the blogosphere simply reposted what Wired magazine and BoingBoing posted without actually reading the terms themselves. As pointed out on a couple blogs, Eliot Van Buskirk, the original poster failed to disclose that the terms also contain the following two statements.
For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions.
The foregoing license granted by you terminates once you remove or delete a User Submission from the YouTube Website.
This completely contradicts Eliot's claims, BoingBoing's claims and well everybody elses.
Digging further, you'll also find out that these supposedly new terms have been around for at least six months, if not longer. But, the real truth is that these terms are standard for any forum or community where the users generate the content. In order for YouTube to play your video for me, they require that they license that video from you. That's what this license says. Nothing more.
The last struck me as odd. I suspect the truth is that nearly 82% of bloggers don't know they are offering an RSS feed as most all of the blogging platforms now provide a default RSS feed.
More intelligent thought on the survey...
I was scouring the errors logs of Rmail just now and I came across the following subscription URL [http://www.redherring.com/RssInfo.aspx], which is an HTML page. I investigated, thinking that maybe my autodiscovery routines were somehow broken. It turns out that Red Herring's homepage RSS icon does link to this page and that this page doesn't implement autodiscovery. So, users have been entering this URL into Rmail and failing autodiscovery, I've been polling that HTML page waiting for RSS to magically appear someday. I'm a big believer in RSS landing pages, but if your RSS landing page doesn't include an autodiscovery link to your RSS feed, then I can tell you that you are losing a lot of RSS readers.
It took about five minutes for me to create a custom inclue! installer for my readers. Click the link below or the button on the right to install inclue! and give it a test drive (pre-populated with KBCafe feeds). inclue! is an Outlook based RSS reader similar to Attensa.http://www.inclue.com/myinclue/friend229-1153428116
David Janes of Blogmatrix has written a great series of tutorials on using Google Base and GData. I've met David a few times and he possesses one of the best understands of syndication formats and technologies. Subscribed.
Steve Rubel: The National Hockey League is poised to launch a social networking site.
Randy: I'm a pretty big hockey fan and judging by previous websites developed by the NHL, this one should be the worst social network ever. Still, it's hockey and it'll be very popular in Canada. A sample entry page follows.
Stewart Butterfield: We've had a temporary storage failure affecting a sizable chunk of old Flickr photos. [cut] The site will come back up as soon as possible.
Jason Calacanis: We will pay you $1,000 a month for your "social bookmarking" rights.
Randy: This is a pretty awesome offer that many fringe a-listers should be jumping at. AOL wants to pay a dozen social bookmarkers $12,000 per year for submitting 150 stories per month. This is a great strategy for Netscape, get the top contributors to MySpace, Flickr, del.icio.us and Digg to move (and likely drag some of their readership) to Netscape, AOL's Digg clone.
I used Dave Winer's OPML archive to do a bit of analysis on his blogging at scripting.com. Some of the OPML wasn't well-formed and some of the blog entries were difficult to parse, but the vast majority worked extremely well.
I uploaded some of the data to OPML Workstation in a proprietary OPML format. It shows everybody that has been linked to 6 or more times. Remember, the data is not exact.
I also found the OPML Workstation is linking to the OPML surfer. Thanks! I'll have to do some work on it (a link back to them) to justify that link love.
Too often, at local geek gettogethers in Toronto, I'll be discussing blogosphere search and some will tell me that they haven't seen any spam in Technorati search results. On the other hand, I've given up on Technorati because it's mostly just spam and other bad results. I prefer IceRocket and Google blog search, which also have a lot of spam, but not as much as Technorati and the non-spam results tend to be better.
Anyways, I want to do another concrete survey of the blogosphere search engine and I'm asking my readers for sample searches they do on Technorati, IceRocket, Google, Yahoo!, Feedster or whatever your favorite search engine is. To help, simply post the (URL) web address of your common queries. Thanks!
Hans Mestrum asked his readers what protocol he should use for syndiation. He sent me the results of his poll.
include! has some pretty awesome tutorials that demonstrate the power of RSS in Outlook.
Steve Rubel: Wikipedia has added RSS feeds to the 1.25 million entries in the encyclopedia. [cut] Simply click on the history link at the top of any entry page and you will see the RSS link on the left hand side.
Randy: Sample code and the chicklet...
<a href="http://www.live.com/?add=http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheRssBlog"><img src="addtolive.gif" border="0"/></a>
Debbie Weil is giving away advanced copies of her book The Corporate Blogging Book to bloggers with a loyal following. I think I fit that bill, but I haven't read a book in more than 5 years (I'm a dedicated blog and online reader) and doubt I'd remember how. Of course, I could scam a book and give it to one of the Play Tag with Me winners. If you want a copy, then send her an email, an address and $10 (delivery). See her blog for details.
Too cool for words. Go and check it out! The image below is simply a screen print of the actual map. I found three kbcafe.com blogs in the map. Can you find your blogs?
A method and apparatus for calculating, displaying and acting upon relationships in a social network is described. A computer system collects descriptive data about various individuals and allows those individuals to indicate other individuals with whom they have a personal relationship. The descriptive data and the relationship data are integrated and processed to reveal the series of social relationships connecting any two individuals within a social network. The pathways connecting any two individuals can be displayed. Further, the social network itself can be displayed to any number of degrees of separation. A user of the system can determine the optimal relationship path (i.e., contact pathway) to reach desired individuals. A communications tool allows individuals in the system to be introduced (or introduce themselves) and initiate direct communication.
Just in time for the baseball all-star game, MLB (major league baseball) has decided to piss off all their blogging and YouTube'ng fans. YouTube has removed dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of baseball videos.
Mozilla didn't seem to learn from the first shot at trying to control the FeedIcon. Now they released usage guidelines. The usage guidelines are not legally binding, but I really wish they would have avoided this. For instance, in the visual guidelines they recommend...
The feed icon (or confusingly-similar variants of it) should not be used in the following contexts: as, or incorporated as part of, an application icon, a web site logo (including a favicon)
the icon should not be displayed in a color other than orange (or black where the use of orange is not possible)
This, of course, means the FeedValidator is not in compliance. I assume Sam won't embarass Mozilla for this stupidity, but I wish he would, if only to tell Frank Hecker that we won't be following his guidelines.
James Robertson: The advisory board can - at best - make suggestions. That's not the same as having an actual spec to point at. Screw up Atom, and you can be proven wrong. With RSS, you can always find a mudfight, because there is no definitive answer...
Randy: I can only show people where the water is.
Eye Roller on James' blog: Randy... then watch Dave link to someone who'll bash you by proxy for deigning to listen to the no longer existant RSS Advisory Board. You just can't win. Cut your losses and deal with people who are at least willing to listen.
Randy: Yes, the last time Dave flamed me, I was... oh wait... Dave doesn't flame me or link to people who flamed me by proxy. And I can tell you why. Dave and I have the same goal; the ultimate success of RSS. And BTW, it's hard not to listen to the RSS Advisory Board when I'm on it and recruited many of the existing members.
A very interesting speech by Ben Hammersley from Les Blogs last December.
The U.S. patent, which was awarded June 27, is extremely general, and would seem to cover the activities of many other sites, especially those like LinkedIn that allow people to connect within a certain number of degrees of separation. Naming Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams, who has left the company, as inventor, the patent refers to a âsystem, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks.â [cut]
The new Friendster patent covers the basic steps involved in joining a social network: entering a personal description and relationships to other users, mapping relationships and degrees of separation, and connecting to others through these friends. [cut]
Six Degrees of Separation, another failed social networking startup, had obtained a patent on social networking technology in 2001. It was bought at auction in 2003 by the founders of LinkedIn and Tribe.net. The Six Degrees patent is cited as a reference in Friendsterâs patent, indicating the U.S. Patent & Trademark examiner did not find that the two patents overlap.
Friendster could use this patent to become a predator in the patent game, but since LinkedIn and Tribe.net already own earlier patents in social networking, they could be used to fend off Friendster. Everybody else is fair game and likely in trouble.
Brian Jones, a program manager in Office: Today we are announcing the creation of the Open XML Translator project that will help translate between the Office Open XML formats and the OpenDocument format. There should actually be a prototype of the first translator (for Word 2007) posted up on SourceForge later on today.
Randy: Wow, this is great news and a big win for anybody who cares about interop. According to the SourceForge project, the project will use XSLT, which means you'll never have to write an XSLT to both xdoc and odf, but rather you can write the XSLT to one and use their XSLT to generate the other. I can already see a lot of re-use in my resume creation Website.
DeWitt Clinton: But what if you wanted to put something interesting inside a syndicated content feed? What if you wanted to put valid XHTML in a feed? You went through the trouble of writing XHTML, why should it be flattened to an opaque blob of âmaybe plain text maybe escaped HTML but Iâm not really sureâ? What if you added semantic microformat markup to your HTML?
Randy: Sorry, but XHTML has been embedded in RSS for more than 3 years. It can be done. It is done.
Amanda Congdon, the most famous video blogger on the planet, has separated with her show, Rocketboom. Jason Calacanis has jumped in and made Amanda an offer. Rocketboom has left the following message on their website.
Amanda Congdon has decided to move to L.A. to pursue opportunities that have arisen for her in Hollywood. We wanted to meet her demands to move production out to L.A., however, we are a small company and have not been able to figure out a way to make it work, financially and in many other ways at this time. While we continue to remain with open arms, Amanda has in fact quit and left Rocketboom. So sadly, we bid Amanda adieu and wish her all the best. Rocketboom goes on. Andrew Baron, the founder and creator of Rocketboom, will stay with the company in New York and will continue to produce and direct the show. We are in the daunting process of recruiting a replacement for Amanda. While Amanda will be sorely missed, we have big plans for Rocketboom and are determined to make the show better than ever.
Dave Winer has added his own opinion and insider knowledge. Some are saying Amanda was fired, Dave is suggesting otherwise. Sounds like the blogosphere is acting a lot like the traditional media its trying to replace. A lot of suggestions and no facts.
Update: Amanda has expanded on her view of the events that led us into this soap opera.
Mark Woodman: I recently did an informal survey of US Senate websites and found a lower adoption rate of RSS and Podcasting than I had hoped. Of the 100 sites, only 25 senators provide RSS feeds or podcasts of their news items.
Randy: It would interesting to see the same research done for the House.
Randy: I guess it is :-)
Valleyway: Whoa, dude! Tribe, the social network preferred by Bay Area hippies and ravers, may be a damsel in distress as reported, says a tipster, but NBC is swooping down to whisk Tribe to its castle in the media sky.
Randy: Tribe has always been the most technically innovative social network, but has never been #1 in the minds of the surfers. A little NBC action might correct this flaw.
Photobucket is offering a free web browser co-created with Flock that makes it easier than ever to drag and drop, and upload as many pictures as you want at once, share photos, search the web and more.
A great partnership that could increase the distribution of Flock and Photobucket. And this looks like the easiest file sharing system yet. I expect Firefox and IE will have this feature on the roadmap soon, if not already. How about Picasa + Google Toolbar? With Google's record breaking time-to-market development squad, this might be released next week.
Dave Winer on SOAP, REST and XML-RPC.
Scanning Greg Reinacker's latest roadmap for NewsGator, they support SOAP and REST, which I know from lots of experience means I have to work real hard just to try their stuff out. Too hard. Amazon's S3 service took this approach and their uptake is too slow, there's no visible momentum (I know I'll get lots of links for saying that). Go to a developer event, no one is talking about S3. That's terrible because it's a good idea and it deserves attention. I wonder why they are so cheap with the interfaces. Get over your religion Greg, and support XML-RPC, I bet it makes a difference. I won't dig into your stuff unless you do. Too much work for me, and I don't think you're going to get the uptake.
Dave believes that XML-RPC is easy compared to SOAP and REST. Let's examine the merits of each with concrete examples. Following is sample SOAP, REST and XML-RPC request and response messages. Note that I've left out some HTTP headers.
GET /stock HTTP/1.1 Host: www.kbcafe.com <?xml version="1.0"?> <soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://www.w3.org/2001/12/soap-envelope" xmlns:m="http://www.kbcafe.com/stock">
<soap:Header> <m:DeveloperKey>1234</t> </soap:Header> <soap:Body> <m:GetStockPrice> <m:StockName>HUMC</m:StockName> </m:GetStockPrice> </soap:Body>
The SOAP request tends to be overly verbose, but generally (not always) easy to understand. The SOAP envelope wraps an optional Header and the Body. The Body contains the actual XML request object. The Header contains information not required to service the request, but that help in some other way. A common use of the SOAP Header is the attachment of user credentials to the request. The beauty of SOAP is that it's not bound to the HTTP transport, although HTTP is by far the most commonly used transport for SOAP messages.
HTTP/1.1 200 OK <?xml version="1.0"?> <soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://www.w3.org/2001/12/soap-envelope"
<soap:Body> <m:GetStockPriceResponse> <m:Price>27.66</m:Price> </m:GetStockPriceResponse> </soap:Body>
The SOAP response, also slightly overly verbose, but easy to understand. Now, imagine getting this response and you want the m:Price element text. How would you formulate the XPath to acquire this bit of information? Very simple ("//m:Price/text()").
GET /stock?StockName=HUMC HTTP/1.1 Host: www.kbcafe.com
The beauty of REST is that GET requests do not require a request package. In this case, the parameter data is simply passed as an HTTP request parameter. Of course, this simplicity comes with a price. You are now bound to the HTTP protocol. Although the argument has been made that the principles of REST are not bound to HTTP, nobody has ever documented that approach.
It's important I explain here that REST is primarily used to service GET requests. By GET, I mean REST requests using the HTTP GET verb. REST uses three other HTTP verbs POST, PUT and DELETE. GET is used to retrieve data, POST to create, PUT to edit and DELETE to ... umh... delete. The HTTP verb is another element that binds the REST protocol to HTTP.
HTTP/1.1 200 OK <?xml version="1.0"?>
The REST response is often very similar to the contents of the SOAP request body. And it's very easy to express an XPath and retrieve the data ("//m:Price/text()"). Note the REST response is actually simpler than the SOAP Body. This is by convention. SOAP transactions typically contain an element named with the method name and the strings Request and Response appended. This is actually unnecessary, but does have one advantage. REST request typically embed the method name within the request URL, which again binds the protocol to HTTP, whereas embedding the method name within the package allows SOAP to exist over any protocol.
POST /stock HTTP/1.1 Host: www.kbcafe.com <?xml version="1.0"?> <methodCall> <methodName>stock.GetStockPrice</methodName> <params> <param> <value><string>HUMC</string></value> </param> </params> </methodCall>
The XML-RPC request is the most verbose of all the protocols. This verbosity is what makes XML-RPC both difficult to use and lacking in inter-op. For example, the <string> element is optional, so the <value> element could have been expressed as <value>HUMC</value>. Several MetaWeblogAPI (the most common implementation of XML-RPC) providers assume the <string> element is present, while others assume it's not present. Whichever way you code it, at least one MetaWeblogAPI provider will fail. This leads to a lot of frustration for developers trying to write XML-RPC applications. You often have to code the request differently to compensate for different server implementations.
HTTP/1.1 200 OK <?xml version="1.0"?> <methodCall> <methodName>stock.GetStockPrice</methodName> <params> <param> <value><double>27.66</double></value> </param> </params> </methodCall>
Again, the XML-RPC response is the most verbose and again it contains a gross limitation. What's the XPath for retrieving the data? If you said ("//double/text()"), then we might have a problem down the road. Imagine the provider augments his response with new elements that includes the stocks 365-day high and 365-day low. The XPath would fail. Neither SOAP or REST have this problem, because the elements are named semantically.
But, there's one other issue that I think is extremely important. What happens when you type SOAP, REST and XML-RPC at Google? Most developers don't know the details of these protocols and are gonna need help. Let's try it. A search for SOAP on Google gives an array of great websites describing the protocol in both simple and detailed form. A search for REST on Google also gives a slightly smaller array of great websites describing the protocol, but none are authoritative. A search for XML-RPC on Google gives a smaller array of low quality websites describing the protocol. Yes, the websites describing XML-RPC are rot with 404 links and unmaintained webpages. The homepage at xmlrpc.com hasn't been updated in 3 years. Have you tried the XML-RPC validator? The top two news items on the news webpage points to 404 pages and the news webpage itself hasn't been updated in 4 1/2 years. Two of the last three questions on the mailing list remain unanswered after several weeks.
Anyhow, I tried not to express opinion in this short article, but that proved quite difficult. I hope you like it.
Richard MacManus: The one issue I had with the "unconference" format was that it tended to favour the extroverted personalities in the crowd, which meant the same old people were doing the talking all the time. I guess it's up to us quiet thinkers to summon up the courage to pitch in, but maybe the Discussion Leaders could do a little more to encourage that to happen? An unconference should include the introverts too :-)
Chris Pirillo: There hasnât yet emerged an OPML icon design that is equally as appealing as the âstandardâ feed icon set forth by Firefox and subsequently adopted by the industry.
Randy: And so, Chris and team designed one. I like it! But I have a question for Chris. Is this public domain? Or is Chris gonna try to trademark it, like Moz?
Full (six part) video of John Edwards at Gnomedex.
Review: I have mixed emotions about this keynote. On one hand, it could really open up the U.S. elections. On the other hand, it might be just a political ploy.
An hour ago, I created an MSN Spaces blog for my 8-yr-old daughter. I picked MSN Spaces, because it's easy enough for an 8-yr-old and some of her friends already had MSN Spaces. I then surfed to her blogsite and found that I had to log-in to view her space. I had clearly marked the blog as public. This seems at odds with the spirit of the blogosphere. Am I missing something? Or... does... MSN Spaces suck!