The Evolution of RSS | 8 | WebReference

The Evolution of RSS | 8

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The Evolution of RSS

RSS Feature Summary

Here are some key features of the different versions of RSS:

Developers can use versions 0.91 and 1.0 safely as 1.0 is based on 0.9, which many RSS tools, applications, and portals are able to read. Using 0.92+ is up to their discretion. What we need now are tools that convert between and work with all the various formats. Developers are working on adding 0.92 support to the XML::RSS module (that already supports 0.9, 0.91, and 1.0).

RSS Usage Survey

Ian Davis, CTO of Calaba Ltd. (and Internet Alchemy) ran a special RSS survey for this article to determine the distribution of RSS versions registered in Here are the results:

Version Num Percentage
RSS 0.90: 1275 44.7%
RSS 0.91: 1488 52.1%
RSS 1.0 : 86 3.0%
RSS 0.92: 5 0.2%
Total 2854

RSS 0.91 is the dominant format with over 52% of the feeds using version 0.91 registered at (May 3, 2001). Dave Winer of reports that a 24-hour poll of active registered My.UserLand RSS sources revealed 32 RSS 0.9 sources and 218 RSS 0.91 sources. (May 9, 2001) (Previous survey)

RSS Applications

Here are some interesting applications based on RSS:

A cross-platform (including Linux) and open source client application that can read all current version of RSS (all v.9x's and 1.0). By Morbus Iff.
An Open Wire Service based on RSS by Rael Dornfest of O'Reilly. This RSS news portal aggregates mainly tech news and combines feeds into MOBs, and categories. News can be filtered by date, category, or regexp or keyword. Useful for keeping up on the latest news in your area.
MetaDot Portal Software
Open source My Netscape-like portal in a "box," based on the XML::RSS module.
  • mod_index_rss allows you to take directories from Apache servers and publish their contents via RSS.
  • mod_mp3 is the streaming server for Apache. You can request information from the server via RSS (for instance you can either ask for the collection of music that the server is sending or you can search on a pattern and get an RSS list of just what was in that pattern).
Open source template-based (uses HTML::Template) RSS to HTML converter, with optional redirects for click-through tracking. Uses XML::RSS to display RSS news on your site. (We use PullRSS on WebRef's footer.)
Radio Userland
Client-side Web application development and runtime environment. Essentially a server on your desktop, this standards-based program has a nice news aggregator built in as a demonstration of the power of this extensive application.
For Slashdot (this is not installed yet on Slashdot, but it is on the new search engine takes requests and will respond via RSS. So you can search for Comments/Users/Stories and have it return the data via RSS. Just about every component of Slash including the problem tracker will spit out RSS if you ask it to (so for instance I can follow new reports on certain bugs based on their bug ID and have Evolution display them for me). Thanks to Brian Aker for this update.
Weblog 2.0
Uses RSS 1.0 and the Taxonomy and Dublin Core modules to manage channels in various formats plus a Yahoo-like directory. By Jonathan Eisenzopf. (We use Weblog to manage WebRef's front page.)

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Created: May 03, 2001
Revised: May 14, 2001