RSS 1.0: The New Syndication Format | WebReference

RSS 1.0: The New Syndication Format

RSS 1.0: The New Syndication Format

An Introduction


In March of 1999, Netscape introduced the RSS 0.9 format, dubbed the RDF Site Summary, as a way of syndicating Netcenter channels: Since then, many Web sites have adopted the format for everything from syndicating news feeds to threaded messages. In short, RSS has become more successful than most people probably imagined. In fact, you may not realize it, but Webreference itself manages its home page in an RSS format. Its simplicity is paramount, its usefulness is evident.

As sites began to use RSS for simple syndication, they wanted more. Much more; Weblogs, message boards, catalogs, event feeds, data exchange, etc. With the release of RSS 0.91, users began to extend RSS by adding their own tags in the RSS files. Furthermore, some editors began inserting non RSS elements and tags such as HTML. This, in fact broke the files in that they were no longer RSS and in some cases, they were not even well-formed XML. Well-formed XML means that the file conforms to the minimum XML requirements needed for an XML parser to process the data. This caused problems when exchanging these files with the public.

RSS 0.91

Netscape released RSS 0.91 in July of 1999, RSS 0.91 moved away from using RDF in favor of a standard DTD and called it the Rich Site Summary format. DTDs are used to describe the format of an XML document. Many sites have since upgraded their RSS feeds to this format. This format provided additional elements that were desirable such as item descriptions. In June 1999, Dave Winer of Userland software published a follow-up 0.91 specification that clarified a few items based on user feedback, which is available at

RSS 1.0

The RSS 1.0 proposal was developed to meet the growing requirements for flexible extensibility that maintain its ability to be shared with 3rd parties. The full spec is available at In that spirit, RSS 1.0 is backwards compatible with RSS 0.9 and has also reintroduced the use of RDF. It also brings the functionality of RSS 0.91 via the rss091 namespace by which you can insert all of the additional 0.91 elements not included in 0.9.

Because RSS 1.0 can be easily extended, in addition to the rss091 module, a number of core modules have been proposed for the Dublin Core, Syndication, Taxonomy, and Aggregation, all of which are available at

Community Involvement

Because community involvement has been so important to the adoption of RSS, an interest group has been formed at egroups, so that all interested parties can get involved in its development. Several developers, including myself, have already submitted tools for processing and transforming RSS and several others will be releasing tools shortly. These tools, in addition to the specs and mailing list are available at Egroups and will make it easier to produce and use RSS. We have also had word that many Web sites and software developers will be supporting the new spec shortly, so look for these announcements in the near future. One of the great benefits of the new spec is that developers will be able to submit their own extensions for various applications and content feeds, allowing others to use their RSS content easily.

Produced by Jonathan Eisenzopf
All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices.
Created: August 15, 2000
Revised: August 15, 2000