The second reason for styled RSS was a proof of concept for an internal application for my company. The idea was a search engine on top of some of our internal databases that returned styled XML (either RSS or Atom) to the client. This way, our other internal apps could query the same exact page, but parse the data reliably. What a novel concept: interacting applications, user friendly search, and half the code for a single interface. Perfect.
Things were coming along nicely, until I tried Firefox 2. I realized very quickly that Firefox 2 decided to override my style in favor of its own stylesheet. As far as I could tell, there was no way to shut it off. So I opened a bug in Mozilla's Bugzilla database. As you can see, the developers marked it WONTFIX, meaning, they didn't consider it a bug and won't fix it. Luckily, after some time and several angry posts, it was reopened.
Now, lest anyone think I'm taking advantage of my status at OSNews to gripe publicly about my personal bug, there's a point to this beyond this bug, so bear with me.
The developers had made their stance on this bug known and suggested moving the conversation to USENET. Before moving off line, I decided to check in with other popular browsers. I fired up IE6 to test. As expected, IE 6 displays the RSS feed properly styled, as expected. Next was the new Internet Explorer version 7, and found that sure enough, IE7 overrides my style as well. IE7, however, is different in three major ways:
- Like Safari, IE7 is a full featured feed reader: you can subscribe in the browser and manage read/unread feeds. This shifts the action from viewing a single feed to a secondary goal of the application, feed management.
- IE7 adds additional functionality beyond that offered by simply RSS, such as the ability to search, organize and reorder via date or title, and search within the active feed and the feed history (XSLT can also accomplish some of these things, but not all of them).
- Most importantly, IE7's so-called "feed view" can be turned off in the browser preferences (Tools > Internet Options > Content) and you can view the feed with the intended style.