On January 18, 2005, a group of RSS users announced the release of RSS 1.1: RDF Site Summary. Though RSS is subject to multiple decodings, it's usually interpreted as "Rich Site Summary," "RDF Site Summary" (where RDF in turn stands for "Resource Description Format,") or "Really Simple Syndication." No matter how it's decoded it's become the lingua franca for describing and delivering news syndication feeds.
Previous incarnations of RSS include two major variants:
An XML RDF-based specification (RSS versions 0.9, 1.0, and draft 1.1)
A non-RDF XML specification (RSS versions 0.91, 0.92, 0.93, 0.94, and 2.0)
Both the draft version of the documents entitled RSS 1.1 Site Summary and the non-RDF RSS 2.0 Specification are published under the terms of the Creative Commons License.
The driving force behind the three primary RSS 1.1 authors' activities in creating the new draft version has been to address shortcomings in the previous specification. The threesome—consisting of Sean B. Palmer, Christopher Schmidt, and Cody Woodard—has added improved support for internationalization, enhanced the revision to make better use of constituent languages (XML, RDF, and so forth), and in general sought to make RSS 1.1 as extensible as RSS 1.0, if not more so. The current RSS 1.1 draft, in fact, can even use extension modules to add organized, coherent collections of extensions if desired.
RSS helps information publishers release their content in a machine readable format that's easy to grab and repackage in any of a variety of ways. It also helps information consumers keep track of specific newsfeeds of interest to them, and to distinguish new items in the feeds from those already read. In addition, the developers are also offering various supporting tools for RSS 1.1, including a feed validator, a test suite, and multiple implementations of Movable Type, WordPress, and so forth.
For those building RSS feeds, or using RSS, it's definitely worth a once-over. Please check out the latest draft at your convenience.
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools for review.