What is RSS?
RSS is a new format for syndicating web site headlines. It was created and popularised by Netscape for their personalised portal site. Many sites, particularly weblogs, now produce an RSS version of their main page on a regular basis.
There have been a number of versions of RSS, starting with 0.90 which was released by Netscape in 1999. This was quickly followed by version 0.91. The development of RSS then stopped as Netscape lost interest in promoting the format. Throughout this period the idea of syndicating headlines through a simple format such as RSS was championed by Dave Winer. In mid 2000, I proposed the modularization of RSS through the use of namespaces which prompted a group of us to begin to work on the specification once more, reintroducing RDF which had been excised by Netscape for version 0.91. This was released as RSS 1.0 in December 2000. In response Dave Winer, who felt sidelined by the process, released an incremental change to version 0.91 and called it 0.92.
The current situation is that we have two competing versions of RSS: 1.0 which is being developed and coordinated by an open group of developers, and 0.92 which is authored by Dave Winer in response to suggestions from the developer community.
For a more complete history of RSS see Dave Winers RSS Timeline, but be sure to read Dan Libby's recollections of RSS development within Netscape and Dan Brickley's account of the origins of RSS. Leigh Dodds wrote an account of the RSS 1.0 development process.
RSS 1.0 development is currently being steered by the RSS working group
Version 1.0 (RDF Schema)
RSS 1.0 is extendable through the use of modules:
- Version 0.92
- Version 0.91 (Dave Winer's cleaned up version)
- Version 0.90
If you're feeling confused, Aaron Swartz has produced an RSS compatibility chart
I've conducted two RSS surveys to assess the state of the RSS landscape. The results are here:
Red Carpet RSS by Rael Dornfest
Webreference - Using RSS News Feeds
Fun with Jabber: Headline Delivery with RSS by DJ Adams
Linux Zombies - RSS: News For Your Site!
IBM developerWorks - An introduction to RSS news feeds
O'Reilly Network - RSS Moves Forward by Edd Dumbill
O'Reilly Network - Writing RSS 1.0 by Rael Dornfest
blagg – simple command line aggregator