It’s just data

Undecipherable Specification Error

What happens when the authors of the FeedValidator can’t decipher a specification?

All specs have ambiguities, and authors of validators tend to worry about details that others don’t.  For example, what happens if a single rss item contains two different <itunes:explicit> elements?  The spec doesn’t say, but it clearly isn’t something that most people would expect to encounter, so I have no problem marking it as an error.  I’m also prepared to back off if somebody were to challenge this with anything remotely approaching a plausible rationale.

Nor am I overly worried about whether or not values for <itunes:explicit> are meant to be case sensitive, or how to deal with abbreviated durations.  Despite the fact that the spec says that durations are to be formatted as HH:MM:SS, I’m confident that the example of 7:04 is meant to be equivalent to 00:07:04, not 07:04:00 or even 70:40:00.

No, I am talking about cases where there is no description at all of the permissible values for <itunes:block>, nor are there any samples provided to base a guess on.  And cases like <itunes:image> for which the provided sample looks nothing like the specification.

Conversations

Yahoo! initiated the development of Media RSS 1.0 on an open mailing list.  Whether you like or hate the spec, it unquestionably was developed in the open, in a manner that enabled anybody who cared to participate to do so. And, if you have any questions or comments, you certainly know where to find the authors.

Later, Microsoft initiated the development of the Simple List Extensions.  Apparently, it was worked on in private over a course of months, and while a select few industry experts got an early peek opportunity to work with Microsoft on enhancements to RSS 2.0 privately without others in the loop, while the rest of us only got to see it after it was unveiled with great fanfare at what has become a very professionally run conference.

After it became clear that this process produced a suboptimal extension, Microsoft has indicated so far that they will make one concession, and created a weblog (with comments enabled!) and a wiki for feedback.  Both of which seem to have been promptly ignored, with the notable exception that some of us have have gotten emails from a person identifying himself as a “senior project manager on ie”.  No thanks, but for now, I’ll pass.

All this from a company that clearly understands weblogs.  Where “clearly understands” in this context means “steps out of the way, and lets their employees do what they feel is right”.

Finally, we have a company with a legendary reputation for secrecy (Apple) creating PodCasting specifications.  Whose webpage responds with “itmss is not a registered protocol” when you click on “learn more”.  Gob-smackingly ignorant indeed.

Admittedly, this is just three data points, but I really don’t like the trend I’m seeing.

Raising the flag

So, returning to the question posed at the top of this post, “What happens when the authors of the FeedValidator can’t decipher a specification?”

I’m really tempted to have the FeedValidator return an “Undecipherable Specification Error” if it ever encounters an <itunes:block>, <itunes:image> or <itunes:link> element.

Perhaps that will get noticed.

Eventually.

Update: I stand corrected.

+1 on every point Sam.  The trend is quite troubling to say the least.

Posted by James Snell at

some of us have have gotten emails from a person identifying himself as a “senior project manager on ie”.  No thanks, but for now, I’ll pass.

What exactly is so wrong about someone sending you an email? Does every professional conversation have to be held in a blog for it to be valid in your eyes?

PS: I have no idea who sent out the mail. I’m just a curious bystander.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Does every professional conversation have to be held in a blog for it to be valid in your eyes?

I got that email as well, and I’ve been out of the community for almost a year.  That’s not professional conversation, that’s PR spam.  I won’t personalize it any further by revealing his name, but honestly, how many senior project managers can one project have?

Posted by Mark at

Sorry Sam, small typo: “Apparently, it was in worked on in ...”

Posted by Christian Romney at

I won’t go into context, but a well known weblogger sent me an email about wanting to have a phone conversation on something I had been writing about. He wanted to work things out, “Blogger to blogger” and I remember thinking how funny that statement was. I gave him some times to call, but he never called — which kind of says much about the person and “blogger to blogger” conversations that don’t happen in blogs.

Having said that, I think you’ll find, Sam, and I’m not trying to be pugnacious, that both Microsoft and Apple won’t care if you don’t validate feeds that they want. They are the Big Dogs. And what the Big Dogs want, the Big Dogs get. I doubt there will be an syndication/aggregator developer anywhere, who won’t bend over to try and get their tools to work with these specifications, and that’s the sad thing. Because you’re right, this is only the start and RSS 2.0 as a ‘feed’ specification has effectively died, starting last Friday.

RSS 2.0 is about to become ubiquitous. RSS 2.0 is about to become trash.

Posted by Shelley at

Christian: fixed.  Thanks!

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Sam Ruby on RSS spec hijackings

Generally mild mannered Sam Ruby is a bit upset about the direction MS and Apple are taking with RSS. In the comments, Shelly of Burningbird has this to say: I won’t go into context, but a well known weblogger sent me an email about wanting to have...

Excerpt from christopher baus.net at

Not ignored... just recovering from Gnomedex.

All the feedback has been heard, and deeply appreciated. Updates to the blog and wiki will be coming soon...

Posted by Sean Lyndersay at

Oh - the project manager who emailed me did identify himself by name.  I just didn’t feel like posting it.  Why?  I’m not entirely sure, other than that it was in my personal inbox, and I tend to be cagey about things that show up there.  And, it could have been a big random blogger mail merge, but it took me off guard.

Posted by l.m.orchard at

Writing Specifications is Hard

I got to say, this post (Undecipherable Specification Error) by Sam Ruby is brilliant, and a terrific look into the moment by moment minutia of a technology in motion that may just well touch everything....

Excerpt from From the Belly of the Beasts at

While it’s possibly true that our simply not validating a feed isn’t going to bother either MS or Apple, nagging emails from their users/suppliers/whatever saying over and over “I added the elements you said to add, and now the feed validator says my feed is invalid because you don’t understand how to write a specification, so when are you going to fix it?” may bother them, and are certainly one of the best sorts of pressure we can put on them (along with weblog posts calling them undecipherable, which at least ought to be the sort of thing they would like to avoid in the future by posting RFC specs rather than things they claim are fully baked and ready to deploy).

Either way, I think we should have “Undecipherable Specification Found,” and having just taken a little spin through the RSS 1.0 mod_company “spec,” also a “Internally Invalid Specification Found.” How can you not love an extension (yeah, yeah, “proposed,” just like every single one for 3+ years) which doesn’t even have well-formed XML in the example, and gets its own namespace wrong?

Posted by Phil Ringnalda at

Phil, have you seen how many podcasts have been added to iTunes. What you’re forgetting is that thousands, perhaps even millions of users clamoring at the aggregators and syndicators to ‘make them work’ will see your developers clamoring at Apple and MS ... and raise you some.

How long ago did we finally kill the last page of badly written HTML? Oh, what was that? It’s still around?

But by all means — create the undecipherable spec error. One should have a hobby.

Posted by Shelley at

You know, I am rather surprised, Sam, that you’re worried about how Apple and MS manage their cute little apple and raindrop extensions. After all, now that RSS 2.0 is about to become so much goulash, the only really standard syndication feeds around will be RSS 1.x and Atom.

And Dave Winer, who might be concerned about this, is finally getting his fondest dream: RSS 2.0 will be everywhere.

We finally have achieved something nobody would believe could happen: everyone’s a winner. Mark Pilgrim, now doesn’t this make you want to come back to blogging?

Well, except the poor sods who have to do the development. And maybe the poor podcaster or blogger that has to create the One True Feed that in the darkness, binds all the extensions.

(Sorry, it’s the heat. Makes me wax poetical.)

The only question I have is: did the MS person email any women?

Posted by Shelley at

The number of podcasts added to iTunes makes me assume that, at least so far, Apple doesn’t actually care about their extension. I know Dave Winer said this morning that his podcast is there, despite not having their required elements, and I assume a fair number of the rest don’t have them either.

But, that’s two separate things: what Apple wants in the feeds they consume, and what we want in the feeds that the world consumes. I honestly don’t know what Apple wants (and their spec and their actions make it pretty clear they don’t know either), but I know what I want in the world’s feeds: cleanly and thoroughly specified, understandable and predictable. Since at this point there’s absolutely no way of knowing what <itunes:block> or <itunes:image> or <itunes:link> mean, or should contain, anyone using them ought to know that they are speaking gibberish.

Apple’s extension is much less interesting than Microsoft’s, since MS’s is designed to make things better for the world in general, and Apple’s is designed to remake things in the way they want them (all that talk about “no HTML, x characters” makes me bet that their store uses the horrid “Credit card number (no spaces or dashes):” too), but Dare saying it will complicate his RSS Bandit podcasting support makes it clear that more than just Apple will be reading and using it, which makes it the validator’s business. People are always free to ignore what the validator says, but it still needs to say what’s most likely to let people producing content talk to people consuming it without things getting garbled along the way. Since <itunes:image> and <itunes:xlkjer> have exactly the same meaning right now, Undecipherable Specification Error sounds about right.

(Final shot at mod_company: even after correcting the namespace in the example, and making it well-formed XML, it’s bloody well invalid RDF. I sure wish RSS-DEV wasn’t dead, so they could bury it. And fix all the module examples that use pre-1.0 syntax, since the world doesn’t really need to be confused by <inchannel>.)

Posted by Phil Ringnalda at

After all, now that RSS 2.0 is about to become so much goulash, the only really standard syndication feeds around will be RSS 1.x and Atom.

And Dave Winer, who might be concerned about this, is finally getting his fondest dream: RSS 2.0 will be everywhere.

We finally have achieved something nobody would believe could happen: everyone’s a winner.

And the biggest winners will be end users now that syndication is for all intents and purposes going  mainstream in a big way.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

doesn’t this make you want to come back to blogging?

...in a comment that mentions RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom, Dave Winer, standards, podcasting, a Lord of the Rings reference, and sexism.  Wow.  Um.  No.

Posted by Mark at

And the biggest winners will be end users now that syndication is for all intents and purposes going  mainstream in a big way.

Dare, is it possible for that goal to be achieved in a manner that is

If not, why not?

If so, who are the biggest winners if is done any other way?

Posted by Sam Ruby at

makes me bet that their store uses the horrid “Credit card number (no spaces or dashes):”

Sadly, no, just a radio group of credit card images more confusing than a Florida ballot, and a simple “Card number” label.  Of course it’s not really a <label>, it’s a <span> within a <td> within a <div> within a <table> somewhere above an <input name="0.11.1.0.6.3.0.11.3.1.21">.  I am not in any way making that up.  But no biggie.  It’s not like blind people ever buy computers.

Posted by Mark at

I gather your comments don’t deal well with blockquotes, Sam, I just lost a huge comment.  Have you ever thought of incorporating more graceful error handling?

Posted by Shelley at

Undecipherable Specification Error sounds about right.

To understand why this “spec” is so snorting-milk-from-one’s-nose-inducingly bad that it makes OPML look respectable by comparison, you need to understand how Apple works.  The entire company revolves around engineering, specifically hardware engineering, and everyone else is pond scum.  Even the iTunes and iPod software/firmware developers, whom you would think would garner some respect, what with iTunes and iPod being at the center of the universe right now.  Nope.  At best, they’re one step above pond scum.  The cream of the scum, as it were.

The guy who spent 30 minutes designing the ever-so-slight curve around the iPod screen?  A god.  The guy who spent weeks working late nights and weekends adding podcasting support in iTunes?  Pond scum.  The guy in the technical documentation department who pulled an all-nighter writing that spec because “hey, somebody should whip up some docs before we ship this puppy tomorrow”...?  He’s so far down on the totem pole that you would actually need to warp the space-time continuum to find him.

Posted by Mark at

Sam,
Sure. Anything is possible. As for who benefits at the end if things are otherwise? Well, a lot of what regular people consider to be the Web isn’t vendor neutral (AJAX, Flash, Java, ActiveX, IM protocols, etc) yet there is lots of end user benefit. Of course, along the way some companies are making money as well. That’s how the technology industry [and capitalistic business in general] works.

I’m curious about something. Given that you formed a competitor to RSS because you felt that it didn’t meet your requirements (vendor neutrality and throughly specified) do you also plan to do that for the extensions from vendors like Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Apple?

If not, then exactly what is the point of your involvement in Atom? And if so, I don’t think that approach is going to scale very well.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

(If I hit the clear info button, I’ll kick myself, but I was pretty sure I hit the Preview.)

I’m going to try again...

Dare: And the biggest winners will be end users now that syndication is for all intents and purposes going  mainstream in a big way.

But syndication is not going mainstream in a big way. Microsoft isn’t just supporting RSS 2.0 for syndication--the company is repurposing the XML.

Notice how quiet Dave Winer was after he had a chance to review the MS spec? This could have something to do with the fact that MS list extensions makes it a somewhat competitive product for his own OPML. And if Microsoft continues with its considerations about putting any data too complicated for the feed syntax into enclosures, it becomes, in effect, competition for most other XML vocabularies, too.

Apple’s extensions were sloppy, and probably rushed out into the street to take some of the shine away from Microsoft’s announcement. But for all the confusion, they are using RSS 2.0 as it was intended: as a syndication feed.

We could say that if Microsoft uses RSS 2.0 to maintain updates between a site and a person’s calendar, there’s dates involved and so it’s relevant. But the mechanisms that trigger an item to ‘fall off the list’ are completely different than what we would expect from a syndication feed.

We could say that wishlists are lists of items, and so that makes them relevant. Well, if we strip away all of the syndication bits.

As for using enclosures to just bung in any data in too complicated for the rest of the feed, we can only assume the organization of the data will change over time, which means that it’s lost for other users and applications. What the heck good is a ‘standard’ way of transmitting data, if we stuff anything into any nook and cranny, just because we can?

Microsoft’s support of syndication feeds in IE? Great! Perhaps they’ll also clean up the CSS margin issue, while they’re at it. But Microsoft’s plans for RSS in the long run? I don’t see this mainstreaming syndication, just bits of XML.

Mark: ...in a comment that mentions RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom, Dave Winer, standards, podcasting, a Lord of the Rings reference, and sexism.  Wow.  Um.  No.

Darn, I missed adding the reference to global warming. But if you thought my cramming all sorts of odds and ends bits into comments was hard to follow, wait till you see RSS 2.0 in 18 months time.

Posted by Shelley at

Shelley,
  All the popular and not-so popular Web browsers support syndication. The software for managing the most popular portable music player supports syndication. The next version of the most popular operating system will have support for syndication built in.

Sure you can quibble that all the i’s and t’s aren’t dotted and crossed to your satisfaction but it seems to be a strong case of denial to claim that this isn’t syndication going mainstream.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Given that you formed a competitor to RSS

Dare, you give me way too much credit.

As Phil said on the sadly now defunct scoblecomments2 server, the only mentions of RSS in the Microsoft announcement is in the breadcrumbs and in the namespace.

Perhaps you should consider the advice you gave to Paul.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Dare, why is RSS 2.0 being built into the OS a good thing? Because more people will subscribe to syndication feeds? They can do this with IE, right?

Because there are more uses for RSS 2.0? This might be important to Dave Winer, but I don’t particularly care. I doubt I’ll try Longhorn, so I can’t see any relevance.

Because there’s more rich metadata available? But this data is all smooshed into an enclosure, difficult to access, and subject to change.

Because Kim Cameron can use RSS as a way of working around the SOAP issues with InfoCard? Or a person using the proprietary Outlook can get updates via a proprietary enclosure? That’s cool, but there’s already vocabularies/technologies for much of this, and I’m not talking about just RDF ones either. Do we throw all this other effort out, because MS is bunging all this data into enclosures?

Because Microsoft’s use of RSS 2.0 validates the whole concept? Do we really need validation anymore?

Posted by Shelley at

What is it about syndication formats that makes everyone so sensitive? Does anyone know what Apple’s corporate blogging policy is like? They don’t seem make a peep in the blogging community, but I can’t imagine that they aren’t reading this. I think the validator has great continued importance whether or not huge companies do their own thing. People like me, who will want to leverage these technologies and want them to work need all the help we can get.

Sadly, it is difficult to find good, unambiguous specifications. I think the feed validator should produce more than just an Undecipherable Specification Error. I think it should offer some common sense guidance. If you don’t have the answer from the horse’s mouth, then let the community figure out what makes the best sense (empirically if possible, and theoretically otherwise) and propose some suggested paths to follow.

I was around in the early days of the Atom discussions and a lot of what we talked about was what was out there in the wild. If a whole slew of feed producers start following the general consensus on how to use the underspecified elements Apple will do one of two things: clarify the spec or update iTunes to handle the stuff in the wild. Granted, this is a radical and sub-optimal proposal, but it’s better than all of us just sitting around clueless about how best to proceed, and I have always believed in the grass-roots power of this community.

Posted by Christian Romney at

I can’t imagine that they aren’t reading this.

Try harder.

Posted by Mark at

If you don’t have the answer from the horse’s mouth, then let the community figure out what makes the best sense

Yeah, because that’s worked so well in the past.

Posted by Mark at

Sam,
  Seriously I’m curious as to what your game is. Your day job for IBM is working on emerging technologies and helping them go mainstream. It seems your reason for kickstarting the Atom effort, hosting the wiki, etc was because you felt Dave Winer’s family of specs were not a solid basis for building this ‘emerging technology’. Now that it is clear that the market is actually fine with RSS 2.0 and is innovating on top of it, where does that leave you?

Are you going to move on to the next emerging technology? Or do you think your job isn’t done and now you also have to police the various companies building on RSS? I think this is a valid question. Bob Wyman seemed to be implying that companies should be going to IETF for extensions in his questions during our keynote at Gnomedex. Your post and comments seem to imply that you believe something similar.

Shelley,
  It seems we have a difference of opinion.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Dare,
  It seems that we have a difference of opinion.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Mark: It HAS worked well in the past. Put aside Dave’s funky stuff. See RSS specifications diff between the backend.userland.com version that was up 2+ years ago and the version posted at Harvard today. The fact that we  endeavored to build a better format and protocol does not take away from the impact we had on producing a better-specified RSS 2.0. This is a better state of affairs for producers of RSS, which was precisely my point.

Aside: Would you consider re-adding a feed to your site? Granted your on some self-imposed pseudo-hiatus from blogging, but if and when you do officially resurface it’ll be easier to spot.

Posted by Christian Romney at

I don’t know if I’m blocked or what, but I’m having a difficult time commenting. Will try again:

Sam: Dare: It seems we have a difference of opinion.

Different opinions is what makes life interesting. That’s why I can still admire and respect those who disagree with me.

Posted by Shelley at

See RSS specifications diff between the backend.userland.com version that was up 2+ years ago and the version posted at Harvard today.

Among the diffs in the 2+ years is the unheralded removal of the following line:

Here’s an example of a file that makes use of elements in namespaces, authored by Mark Pilgrim.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

I don’t know if I’m blocked or what, but I’m having a difficult time commenting. Will try again:

You are not blocked.

I’m not seeing any problems myself, but will look into whatever problems you may be seeing.  Data welcome.

Sam: Dare: It seems we have a difference of opinion. Different opinions is what makes life interesting. That’s why I can still admire and respect those who disagree with me.

Agreed, up to a point.  I see no point in responding to are you still beating your wife? style of questioning.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Dare said: “<i>Or do you think your job isn’t done and now you also have to police the various companies building on RSS?</i>”

Or could it be users of a technology caring about quality, openness, completeness, clarity, and good faith.  Users should police companies building on a technology the users care about given that companies have proven time and time again that they need to be policed.

Posted by James Snell at

Sam: I’m not sure I get the point of the last comment (disappearing Mark), no disrespect intended. Could you elaborate? I ran the file through the feed validator and it congratulated me. What am I missing?

In any case, unless no one has the energy for it, I still haven’t seen a persuasive argument for not just forging ahead. Sure, someone will have to make some changes down the road, but it’s all about critical mass. I propose that if there is more than one itunes:block, a warning be issued. I don’t have iTunes installed yet, but it should be easy to determine empirically what happens when two blocks are issued (one yes one no) and to add that info as a message in the warning. Incidentally, I’d expect the presence of a yes to take precedence over a no. When in doubt, err conservative.

Posted by Christian Romney at

  I see no point in responding to are you still beating your wife? style of questioning.

Interesting, my original response to your question about vendor neutrality, etc said something similar but I ended up removing it because I considered it inflammatory.

The bottom line is that the stuff you do has impact in this space. Whether you want to admit it or not, the fact that you spearheaded that Atom effort rippled across the XML syndication space. If you intent to start spearheading similar efforts in ways that will affect my employer, its customers and me personally then that is of interest to me.

Of course, you don’t have to answer my questions AND your most recent blog post gives me enough clues to your intentions anyway. Thanks.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Sam, I hit the preview button and the page comes up blank. Completely blank — nothing on it. When I hit the backspace, the comment is gone.

It’s also done this a couple of times when I’ve hit publish. Firefox, latest, on Mac, have Greasemonkey installed, but no extensions that should impact as far as I can see.

Posted by Shelley at

Kellogg's new Fruit Harvest Peach and Strawberry c...

Kellogg’s new Fruit Harvest Peach and Strawberry cereal - the peaches felt more like mangos - weird. 5-legged calf! Apple screwed up podcast support in iTunes. Lame. They’ve also annoyingly created a second, proprietary (flawed) spec, so...

Excerpt from Richard and Misti's Blog at

Squawkbox: Corporate Use of MSN Spaces-- check out CNBC. Rant alert

Who’d a thunk it - a corporate blog on MSN Spaces. Check this out. Big problems a gwan though. The CNBC site does a horrible job of supporting Firefox. No pictures and so on. No buttons. Please stop the...... [more]

Trackback from James Governor's MonkChips

at

The bottom line is that the stuff you do has impact in this space. Whether you want to admit it or not, the fact that you spearheaded that Atom effort rippled across the XML syndication space. If you intent to start spearheading similar efforts in ways that will affect my employer, its customers and me personally then that is of interest to me.

I have impact.  Cool.  I honestly believe that the work I have done on the FeedValidator has had more of an impact in the syndication space than anything else I have done.  And, again, I think you continue to overstate my role in Atom.

I have worked with your employer on open standards, including SOAP and ECMA.  Through efforts like the ASF, I’ve participated in efforts to make the JCP more open.  Most of the componentry of AJAX are vendor neutral (ECMA and W3C).  I don’t do Flash or ActiveX.  Any work I may do in IM space is more likely to be based on XMPP than on proprietary protocols.

Hopefully this brief summary of what I have been doing is a useful indicator of what I am likely to be doing in the future.

Will this impact you and your employer?  I certainly hope so.

And to the extent that we can work together, I would certainly welcome the opportunity to do so.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

To me, having a simple XML syndication format baked into Microsoft’s next version of Windows benefits everyone.

And I don’t care whether it’s my favorite format or someone else’s.

Despite the best efforts of many people, Atom, RSS 1.0, and RSS 2.0 are all still simple enough to be learned quickly.

Enough is enough. I’m tired of seeing how many pedantic and combative syndication dorks can fit on the head of a pin. How many years are we going to argue this? Just give me all the XML I can eat. My parser is hungry.

Posted by Rogers Cadenhead at

Before it gets struckthrough, the word “dorks” was offered in genuine affection for myself and my bitter adversaries.

Posted by Rogers Cadenhead at

Despite the best efforts of many people, Atom, RSS 1.0, and RSS 2.0 are all still simple enough to be learned quickly

Agreed.

Now, despite the best efforts of several people to derail this discussion, what should developers and the FeedValidator do about <itunes:block>, <itunes:image> or <itunes:link> elements?

That’s what I’m focused on.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

I think it is fine for the feed validator to issue a warning about those elements. From my perspective as an aggregator developer I plan to ignore those elements.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

I think Dare’s spot on in terms of what most aggregator developers ought to do unless they plan to emulate iTunes. The iTunes elements are supposed to trigger certain application behavior (even if we’re still not sure just what behavior that might be). It would be foolish for an application to give these elements different semantics.

For the feed parser, I submitted a proposal for itunes:block above. As for itunes:image and itunes:link, I would submit that the example in the specification should be considered normative (as opposed to the explanatory text above it). This would mean warning on itunes:image appearing at all (deprecated in favor of link rel="image"). Of course, empirical tests might suggest a better course of action.

Posted by Christian Romney at

Sam: Now, despite the best efforts of several people to derail this discussion..

Gee Sam, thanks! Next time we non-IBM and non-Microsoft dorks (using Rogers word, with affection, of course) will try to stay out of your private conversation. I mean, you guys got Important Work To Do and all.

Posted by Shelley at

Joseph “I’ll tell you where I work when you prove you can use the knowledge well” Walton and I, at the very least, would like to know what company affiliation has to do with the feed validator.

I don’t really like the idea of a warning: my take on what we mean when we say “your RSS feed is valid” is “as near as we can tell automatically, for the elements that we know about, your RSS feed contains the right stuff to be understood by anyone who has read and understood the specs.” The only way I can see that we can say that is by running experimental feeds through iTunes, deducing the intended spec from that, writing our own version of the spec (ignoring that they didn’t license their version for republication or derivative works), and then continuing to run testcases through to verify that our version still matches theirs. Short of that, I don’t see how we can say a feed is interoperable when we know that it’s impossible to know how to make it interop.

Posted by Phil Ringnalda at

Sam, my two cents worth.

I think feed validators, such as yours, will soon have to support extension by allowing third parties to register their extensions so they can be validated. Apple and Microsoft can register their elements and feeds containing those elements can be validated fully.

Posted by Don Park at

Phil, I clearly advocate the approach you mentioned wrt empirical testing. My idea for a warning is in anticipation of both itunes:image and itunes:link doing the same thing. If one clearly works and the other doesn’t then, given the current state of the specification, it’s easy to return an error instead. The problem comes in when the application supports multiple ways of doing the same thing.

Posted by Christian Romney at

Shelley: you are always welcome to post here, and hopefully I will be able to reproduce and correct the comments in disappearing ink problem that you are seeing.  Meanwhile, my declaring what I’m interested in doesn’t deprive you of any rights to continue discussing what interests you.  Personally, I find the alleged Syndication Wars to be so 2003, and to be completely honest, the weren’t that interesting then.  At least, not to me.  Apparently, others apparently find it captivating.  *shrug*

Don: I’m not sure what registering means in this case.  Validating an extension is only a matter of a few lines of code; as well as a somewhat greater investment of time (and bytes) in the form of error pages in HTML format.  The FeedValidator is open source, and everybody — including both Apple and Microsoft — are welcome to contribute.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

All the XML You Can Eat

The usual suspects are gathering for a syndication format cage match at Sam Ruby’s weblog, sparked in no small part by the implicit endorsement of RSS 2.0 by Apple and Microsoft. This really should end like War of the Roses, the advocates for each...

Excerpt from Workbench at

Would you consider re-adding a feed to your site?

Which part of HTTP 410 Gone didn’t you understand?

Posted by Mark at

I didn’t take an early “peek”

Sam Ruby : "Microsoft initiated the development of the Simple List Extensions .... [more]

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at

Thanks Sam. No, I’ve said my piece. As to why the comments did what they did — I have no idea. I was able to replicate it several times. Odd.

Good luck in your validation efforts.

Posted by Shelley at

Now with podcasting!

So, the long-awaited iTunes 4.9 was released this week. It’s another sign that RSS and podcasting are all grown up now. It’s another blow against “old media”, which I think is a great thing. Of course, this has its downsides,...

Excerpt from Matthew Gifford at

How about if I answer this, instead?

It really would be an interesting question (at least to me), if anyone wanted to try answering it. Or for......

Excerpt from phil ringnalda dot com at

I don’t see how you guys keep up with all of these crazy different feed versions.  My hat’s off to anyone who can keep up with a validator for all of those formats.  And with the recent introductions of the iTunes podcast crap, it just seems like it will never end.  Keep up the good work, Sam.  :)

Posted by Scott Johnson at

Which part of HTTP 410 Gone didn’t you understand?

God, how I’ve missed your 100-grit abrasiveness. ;) Admit it, you can’t really stay away from all this.

Sam: I had the same dissappearing ink problem Shelley reported. Ubuntu Hoary, Firefox 1.04. This may help. I hit preview, re-edit, preview, re-edit, no preview, directly to submit. Update: that same scenario seemed to trigger it again. Submitting without preview may be the culprit?

Posted by Christian Romney at

Dearest Sam Ruby, I hope you read this. Your anti-spam comment code blocked this comment from the specification error thread, so I’m posting a trackback instead. Sorry for the multiple posts. Caffiene makes me type fast. There’s a big delay that makes it look like the post isn’t working. May...... [more]

Trackback from XML-BLOG

at

Well, why not simply ask to Apple what they really meant instead of guessing it by trial ?
I’m sure that many people try to understand how to use that <itunes:image> thing. I do.

It is not like Sam Ruby or anyone there is Mr lambda. You will surely get a quick answer and a new specification would be issued...

And everything will be fine for users and developers.

Posted by Kenji at

Kenji - I don’t see an email address, web form, wiki, weblog, phone number or any other contact information associated with this specification.  If you or anybody else can find such information, I would gladly follow up.

Meanwhile, I’ve provided a means for Apple to comment here.  Or here.

Even if they don’t follow my weblog, or even do an occasional google search for Podcast Specifications, perhaps once my changes to the validator go online, they will be noticed by somebody.  Eventually.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

I was browsing Apple.com in order to find some contact information and eventually land in the iTunes forums.

There is a forum about podcasting. The following intervention by “iTunes Mike” (Apple Employee) caught my attention :

please use <itunes:image> instead of <itunes:link> we will be updating the docs asap

[link]

Still no email.

Posted by Kenji at

Kenji: thanks! I’ve posted a pointer to my initial questions and current test cases.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

I didn’t take an early “peek”

Sam Ruby: "Microsoft initiated the development of the Simple List Extensions.  Apparently, it was worked on in private over a course of months, and while a select few industry experts got an early peek, the rest of us only got to see it after...

Excerpt from rss tools at

Feeder 1.1.3, iTunes, etc

Apologies for the lack of updates to the blog recently. Mostly this is because I’m busy, but also my site has been seeing a lot more traffic since the iTunes podcasting release and my server had a few creaky moments last week; I didn’t want to add...

Excerpt from Reinvented Blog at

Subscribe to Sam Ruby

Everyone with a syndication feed should be subscribed to Sam Ruby, especially those high profile companies creating non-standard feeds. If you don’t do it to watch your feed’s back, then you simply must do it to catch the pithy Mark Pilgrim...

Excerpt from TheMiddle at

Subscribe to Sam Ruby

Everyone with a syndication feed should be subscribed to Sam Ruby, especially those high profile companies creating non-standard feeds. If you don’t do it to watch your feed’s back, then you simply must do it to catch the pithy Mark Pilgrim...

Excerpt from TheMiddle at

Green, Spanish, Extensions

For XML::Writer, I’ve used Devel::Cover to ensure that as much as possible is covered by tests (it found a couple of bugs, too). I removed a hardcoded variable for this release so, finally: filestmtbranchcondsubpodtimetotal...

Excerpt from Kafsemo.org at

The Hand of FuManChu PUTs POST in perspective

Referrer inspired communication is nifty. [link].org/ brought me this gem regarding semantics of HTTP’s PUT vs. POST. My recent encounter with this while digging about REST is the XML.com article “How to create a REST protocol”...

Excerpt from Square Rutabaga at

Microsoft Announces Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS and OPML

... [more]

Trackback from Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life

at

Subscribe to Sam Ruby

Everyone with a syndication feed should be subscribed to Sam Ruby, especially those high profile companies creating non-standard feeds. If you don’t do it to watch your feed’s back, then you simply must do it to catch the pithy Mark Pilgrim...

Excerpt from TheMiddle: Category Humor at

Undecipherable Specification Error Redux

Last June, I  wrote about a some ambiguities in an Apple spec that were troubling me.  More troubling than the ambiguities was the lack of an ability to have a  conversation.  So I decided to  raise a flag. The technique worked.  It took  multiple  ite... [more]

Trackback from Sam Ruby

at

Subscribe to Sam Ruby

Everyone with a syndication feed should be subscribed to Sam Ruby, especially those high profile companies creating non-standard feeds. If you don’t do it to watch your feed’s back, then you simply must do it to catch the pithy Mark Pilgrim...

Excerpt from TheMiddle: Category Humor at

2008 is the year of Linux on the desktop

My parents' desktop....

Excerpt from dive into mark at

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