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Neutral Weblog Hotel

I rarely discuss weblog-world stuff here, since Ftrain is not a proper weblog, for reasons I don't want to explain now, and the word “blog” gives me hives. But still:

There is a concerted effort underway by a group of the well-informed and enthused individuals to create a common, standard format for “weblog syndication, archiving, and editing.”

Every one of the 8,000 lines of code for Ftrain is written in XSLT by myself (I did adapt the calendar code from something evil and miraculous found on a mailing list in the days before EXSLT date functions). While I can think of plenty of interesting things I could do with the giant webwork of content currently being tossed around the web, I don't have the time or interest to write code that will play nicely with other weblog services if there isn't a defined standard for those services that I trust enough to implement.

Take RSS2.0. It's a technically sound format. It makes sense to me, but there was absolutely no way to motivate me to implement it as part of the Ftrain code because I did not trust that the standard is stable. Now, in the interest of completeness, and because I am being paid to do so, I am probably going to add it as an export and import format. But not out of love for the medium.

And without love, what do you have? Just cold data and dwindling hope.

I don't care about the arguments that have led to this situation; all I know is that my gut instinct says RSS2.0 is not right for me. My gut instinct said RSS1.0 was right for me, and my gut instinct loves XSLT, which some people think is sheer drunken madness. To each their own, but still: you have to go with what feels right, because you're going to be living with it—with the tools, technology, and community around your chosen technologies—for as long as you apply any given solution. I think the folks involved in this effort, if they heed community criticism and feedback, have the potential to create something stable and standard that I'll trust, something that I'll want to learn and talk about with others.

That lack of the feeling of stability in the current formats, and the low quality of RSS feeds in general with regards to validation (many require incredibly loose parsing), has kept me away from all but RSS1.0, which I use inside of Ftrain because RDF's data model is predictable and reliable.

Me, I have often wished for a single neutral format that would allow my CMS to interact freely with the other weblogging tools. This looks to be that format, and it has my full support.

Whatever that's worth.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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