Linked by Adam S on Tue 7th Nov 2006 12:58 UTC
Editorial We are on the brink of a very exciting time. The buzzword-friendly "Web 2.0" is here, and it's most punctuated by three terms: social networking, AJAX, and RSS. Nothing about these things is inherently new - AJAX existed as an ActiveX control present in Microsoft's Outlook Web Access long ago, social networking has existed for some time via sites like Friendster, and RSS is just a style of XML, which has been floating around in mainstream tech circles for about 10 years. But Web 2.0 is here, like it or not. The question is, as use of these technologies begins to become more widespread, how are we going to shape these technologies, and who is going to make those decisions?
Order by: Score:
Great article
by JrezIN on Tue 7th Nov 2006 16:45 UTC
Member since:

Very important points.

These standards are (and will be) very in our daily life. I hope these details get better attention and get more serious discussion.

Reply Score: 1

Do not agree
by orfanum on Tue 7th Nov 2006 17:04 UTC
Member since:

That Web 2.0 is here, like it or not, if this implies that it's here to stay - what apparently underpins Web 2.0 is the ability to link services and content together, mash-ups, and all that, but without the potato, where's the mash? Technology, or its relative cementedness is one thing, the business model and licensing of access to and re-usability of content and services is another. You could say that Web 2.0 doesn't link anything but other links to make a chain, but a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, and anyway, what's a chain - anything more than 2 linkages? OK, so I am not developer, but in my field of knowledge management, AFAIK Web 2.0 is still no more than hype, because no-one really knows how to factor it into a sustainable business environment, or predict sufficiently how this may happen in order to deploy soundly or make the full transition to it as *the* revenue stream. Other sectors may have different experiences, I don't know, but for me, the hip of the hype is already getting a little tedious

Reply Score: 1

by MeatAndTaters on Tue 7th Nov 2006 17:04 UTC
Member since:

Who is going to make those decisions?

Samuel L. Jackson, that's who.

Reply Score: 1

The answer is easy...
by jo42 on Tue 7th Nov 2006 17:35 UTC
Member since:

Whoever cobbles up something that becomes the most popular.

Their 'API' will become the defacto standard.

Edited 2006-11-07 17:35

Reply Score: 2

excuse me...
by hobgoblin on Tue 7th Nov 2006 17:38 UTC
Member since:

but when ever i have heard about rss, it have always been as a kind of raw data stream, not as a "lite" web page...

but then i have never payed much attention to the development of RSS, i have just used it (via firefox with the sage extension).

still, i see that your RSS talk is just an example used to hi-light the question people have been asking since the browser war between netscape and microsoft.

one of the problems with RSS is that i don't think there are any formal standards or expected default behaviour for when a browser encounters a RSS feed.

this seems to always be the problem of web based tech, the standards often come way to late (kinda like new laws in a way).

Reply Score: 1

by Sphinx on Tue 7th Nov 2006 18:26 UTC
Member since:

I used standard CSS, rather than the more advanced XSLT

After this rather incredible point of cluelessness on the part of the author I saw no value in continuing.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Pass
by Adam S on Tue 7th Nov 2006 18:37 UTC in reply to "Pass"
Adam S Member since:

I love when people leave arrogant comments that suggest they are some sort of expert, but leave no evidence or justification. Explain yourself rather than just spouting off pointlessly. XSL is not the same as CSS. With which part are you taking issue?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Pass
by ma_d on Tue 7th Nov 2006 19:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Pass"
ma_d Member since:

I don't believe XSL is ever for styling pages. I don't see how you'd do that other than a transformation onto bad xhtml (xhtml is not supposed to contain style components, you're supposed to use CSS for that). The overlap in name "style" is probably why people believe it's for format styling, but it's for data styling (whatever that actually means).

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Pass
by Adam S on Tue 7th Nov 2006 20:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Pass"
Adam S Member since:

I get what you're saying, but isn't that just taking a really narrow definition.

So one means "bolding, aligning, and adding pretty colors" and one means "organizing in a meaningful fashion," but in English, aren't those both considered "styling?" Assuming we recognize a difference, is the original sentence actually wrong?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Pass
by Sphinx on Tue 7th Nov 2006 20:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Pass"
Sphinx Member since:

I'm sure my point is pretty obvious to anybody familiar with both of them. I would'nt think of using one without the other, there is no choice between the two to be made, they are not even similar technologies. If your input is in XML you transform it with XSLT and link in a CSS2 stylesheet to make it look like something worth reading and probably another of javascript to bring in some interactivity, ajax or whatever. The statement made no sense to the arrogant and clueful so they stopped reading it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Pass
by deadmeat on Wed 8th Nov 2006 02:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Pass"
deadmeat Member since:

...f your input is in XML you transform it with XSLT and link in a CSS2 stylesheet to make it look like something worth reading..

You don't have to use XSLT for this. You can use CSS on its own to pretty up XML. As for JS and AJAX, wtf, it's an rss feed, what kinda functionality do you really need?

So your insistence that you need to use XSL is both wrong and missing the point. Of course it's possible you know this, and you were just hinting that XML+CSS is just annoying and works oddly in different browsers, in which case I agree. In this case XSL sounds like major overkill tho.

I agree with author that having a standards "compliant" browser ignore an authors style directives isn't the behaviour that a developer would expect. However MS and IE have proven that web developers shouldn't have expectations, they should be (are?) pathetic wretches wasting their sanity testing code and markup in six million browser versions.

Edited 2006-11-08 02:09

Reply Score: 2

Both sides jousting at hobbits
by mphipps on Tue 7th Nov 2006 18:46 UTC
Member since:

Unless I misread that entirely too long thread, it looks like this, to me:

1) Prior to FF2, RSS feeds, by default, looked really bad when entered as a URL.
2) Many developers worked around this by supplying a stylesheet.
3) FF2 came out with drastically better default handling of RSS.
4) FF2 devs decided to ignore the existing style sheets because they were PROBABLY no longer needed.

If the above is correct, it would be really hard, IMHO, to argue that FF devs are NOT user focused. They tried to do the best thing for the average user. Given that there is no one, today, technologically, to differentiate between CSS because I really want it and CSS because otherwise (old browsers) it will suck, you really have two choices when an RSS with a CSS is found.

a) Don't apply a default style.
b) Apply a default style.

Between these two, FF did the right thing, IMHO.

Now, the other question, how configurable should this be and how should it be configured, is completely separate.

Some FF devs are arguing that it is configurable with a 512 byte comment at the beginning of the feed. The counter arguments of unchangeable feed data, wasted bandwidth and fragility argue against this.

Others have suggested an extension based fix. Install extension Foo and view your feeds any way you want. Given that extensions are easy to install, user focused, the rarity of the desire to use a custom style sheet and the flexibility that this offers, it seems like a good choice to me. Not to mention that anyone can write one and the FF folks don't have to agree.

Finally, some clickable UI control (drop down, button, whatever) that allows you to choose different style sheets was suggested. Does this bloat FF? Does it add more code to something that is enormous to begin with? Does it simplify the average user's life?

I think that this is one of those cases where an extension is called for. As JLG used to say, "a third party opportunity".

Reply Score: 4

RE: Both sides jousting at hobbits
by ma_d on Tue 7th Nov 2006 19:59 UTC in reply to "Both sides jousting at hobbits"
ma_d Member since:

It seems to me that this is really just annoying more than anything. If users don't like this they should complain.

For devs, I don't think they have any business complaining. I don't see how styling an rss feed yourself is going to help the user out in any significant way, especially if they prefer to have all rss feeds look alike.

It would be good for this to be an option though, because some people may like to see differently themed rss feeds, and it seems like this would be an easy thing to make an option out of...

Reply Score: 2

You're going to have to split your feed
by Wes Felter on Tue 7th Nov 2006 19:18 UTC
Wes Felter
Member since:

You'll have to provide both HTML (with whatever styling you want) and RSS/Atom (with no styling) versions, just like pretty much everybody else does.

Reply Score: 4

Adam S Member since:

Got it. So Atom is pretty much dead before it got started.

Reply Score: 1

frik85 Member since:

Why do you imply from that statement that Atom is dead?

You just don't understand what the real purpose of RSS/Atom.
... it's not to transfer style information!
It's a data-exchange format, so that no complex parser is needed on the client-side.

And there is not just one RSS, but at least three major RSS versions: 0.9.x, 1.0, 2.0

RSS and Atom are based on xml syntax, just a standard so that different service/apps can read the data.

It's better to provide the blog, newsletter, what ever as html and additionally as RSS and/or Atom (better both) xml files.

Reply Score: 2

Adam S Member since:

Excuse me, sir, but NO -- limitations in your implementations have led to your narrow viewpoint. Of course Atom doesn't transfer style- it's XML! No one argues that it does. But you've cut its feet off in your myopic, single-purposed world.

Atom may have been developed for data exchange, but it's used in several places in different ways. The existence of CSS and XSL have made it possible to build functional webpages that serve multiple purposes in one shot. By overriding the valid style declarations, you've knocked Atom back down to stricter RSS again.

I know who ISN'T pushing XML forward in any way whatsoever - you.

Reply Score: 1

frik85 Member since:

> I know who ISN'T pushing XML forward in any way whatsoever - you.
My comment was about RSS and Atom, both in general.

XML need no "pushing" anymore, nor another hype. It's already there.
It's not about XML, it's about metadata and Semantic Web, it's about WWW-3.0 ...

You can of course use RSS/Atom news feeds in what ever style, behaviour you want. Adding CSS or other style information is just meant as fallback solution, if the user open the deep-link with a web-browser (excluding the lastest generation).
The RSS/Atom feed was meant for Reader-Application, (Web-)Services, etc.

Of course, you can do with it what ever you want. But you cannot assume that everyone want it like you (or someone else) propose it.
You could try alter the RSS (or what ever) standard guidelines and create a new version, or a new format. There is no driving force behind most of the xml based formats.

Maybe you have already heard of mirco-formats (like hCard, hReview, hCalender, etc.) or even Semantic Web.
Metadata is already and will become more important in the next years. Currently, there is a movement from WWW-1.0 to WWW-2.0, and Semantic Web is meant to be something like WWW-3.0.

All these technologies and formats have one thing in-common:
They have been designed to make it easier for computer applications to understand what's the text/page/object/what ever is about.

To sum up: not only web search engines nowadays use newsfeeds to keep their index and cache up-to-date. Data mining and a lot of other areas depend on metadata, and newsfeeds contain a lot of them, normally.

Edited 2006-11-07 20:55

Reply Score: 3

API standards are only one aspect
by mlb2000 on Tue 7th Nov 2006 20:20 UTC
Member since:

Like previous commentor, I see Web 2.0 / mashups as relying on standard APIs and coherent, long-lived hosted services.

Application X takes a type 1 feed from site Y which consolidates feeds from sites A, B, C,D using feed types 2,3,4 & 5v1.001.9beta. Applicaition Z overlays, via a propriarty method, geographical information on the output of X, which is used by estate agent site K, ad infitinum.

Any single change in information structure, APIs, applicaiton behaivour will kill a downstream application, or worse destroy the integrity of information provided to end-user.

Not to mention the legal minefield of who owns information and to what purposes licesnes allow, who is liable if a site goes down or owner goes bankrupt, etc.

Reply Score: 1

Yes, no, maybe
by Beta on Tue 7th Nov 2006 21:05 UTC
Member since:

I quite agree with your points, and find the 512 blob hack an annoyance at best. An extension isn't a solution for this, it'd need to be a rollout in a 2.0.1 update.

As for usable solutions: Mozilla could easily supply an XSLT document to create a warning atop feeds with custom styles - but you'll always have the problem of this interfering with the developers' layout.

I do have to query your use of "XML" in the title of the report. This is purely an RSS/Atom problem. XML will, and is used in a lot of backends, databases, and documents (hello ODF ;) ).
If I serve custom XML (non rss) to Firefox, and either use CSS or XSLT to change the output, I'll get exactly what I want.
So really you meant, "The Future of Feeds?".

Reply Score: 1

Funny title
by Hans on Tue 7th Nov 2006 23:22 UTC
Member since:

It kind of implies that XML has a future ;-)

There is also the possibility that sanity might kick in one day.

Reply Score: 1

Future of XML?
by Soulbender on Wed 8th Nov 2006 06:43 UTC
Member since:

Nice title, too bad this has nothing to do with XML itself and everything to do with the subset of XML known as RSS/Atom.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Future of XML?
by Adam S on Wed 8th Nov 2006 13:09 UTC in reply to "Future of XML?"
Adam S Member since:

Did you actually read the article?

The discussion goes something like this: if browser manufacturers can make decisions about how a particular subset of XML can be used and then force that decision into the mainstream, what's to stop them from altering the course of the way /any/ XML (delivered by the browser) is used?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Future of XML?
by Soulbender on Thu 9th Nov 2006 08:15 UTC in reply to "Future of XML?"
Soulbender Member since:

"if browser manufacturers can make decisions about how a particular subset of XML can be used"

Where in th XML and/or RSS/Atom standards does it say that CSS *must* be processed and respected? CSS is not part of the RSS specification so you're basically complaining that your non-standard way of using RSS isn't working the way you want it to.
AFAIK, CSS in XML optional and not using an optional element is not "making desicions" about XML.
Also, they are not altering the way it is used, they're altering the way it is displayed. There's a crucial difference.

Reply Score: 1