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by Tony Chang
tony@ponderer.org

All opinions on this site are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Creative Commons Attribution License

feed URLs

Jan 03, 2006, 01:02am EST

 

 

I wrote the following a while back on the flockstars mailing list:

…the more I think about it, the more I think that users shouldn’t have to copy/paste a feed URL directly. Instead, whatever you’re copying into should be smart enough to find the <link> tags automatically. …

The distinction between a feed url and a site url feels more like a technical distinction, not a semantic distinction.

As Bill pointed out, this is only useful if your aggregator knows how to follow autodiscovery links. So I decided to see which aggregators were able to do this. I decided to use this site’s URL because it has two autodiscovery links (entries and comments) and I wanted to see how aggregators handled that as well. I tried almost all the aggregator urls found in the log files for this site.

found none found main found both

So it looks like most aggregators understand autodiscovery. And because most understand autodiscovery, it’s not really necessary to have an orange feed icon as a clickable link. A feed isn’t for human consumption, so why make it clickable?

Alternately one could have the icon go to a page describing what a feed is or perhaps point out the autodiscovery icon in the user’s browser.

And yes, I realize I still have the link on my site. I’m thinking about what to do about it.

Matt Hamer at Jan 03, 2006, 09:52am EST

Kinja supports auto-discovery using link tags - just not interactively, yet. When a URL is new to Kinja, it is placed in a queue that is processed by a “discovery” crawler. This crawler parses the page to find potential feed sources. Of course, link tags are the first choice, but because they aren’t yet ubiquitous, other heuristics are also used to try to find feed links. I describe this process a bit more in this post about the Kinja parser.


tony at Jan 04, 2006, 12:05am EST

Ah, I see. The lack of any feedback and the “my kinja” page not changing made me think that nothing happened.

Anyway, I’ve moved kinja into the “found main” feed list.


Jeof Oyster at Jan 04, 2006, 03:15pm EST

It amy also depend on the format fo the feed. I use intraVnews (a plug in for Outlook) which has no trouble with autodiscovery for RSS, but can NEVER find Blogger/BlogSpot s, which are always the URL+ atom.xml and are in the Atom format.


Neil Drumm at Jan 05, 2006, 02:46am EST

Thanks for trying all these. I’ve been thinking autodiscovery is working well enough for awhile now.


lance at Jan 13, 2006, 01:49pm EST

Tony … I just wanted to say that although I don’t understand most of what you write about, I still enjoy reading ponderer.org. Thanks for always thinking outside the box challenging the status quo. You’re the man!


Max at Jan 18, 2006, 07:13pm EST

Firefox’s Live Bookmark feature was conspicuous in its absence; I know that a lot of people just rely on Firefox instead of a “true” RSS reader. Incidentally, Firefox autodiscovered both feeds.