Writing an RSS client

Interestingly, my latest paid project is to build an RSS reader. I am doing this not out of bloody-minded determination to reinvent the wheel, and I would be perfectly happy to adapt an existing project to work in the way I want, but none of the apps I have seen or tried does what I want it to do.

This project is a desktop feed notifier. It will poll feeds and pop up messages (non-intrusively) either when it starts or when it first sees them.

I have mentioned my views on RSS before, but happily they don't conflict this project. Because this is aimed at intranet service notifications there is a contract between producer and consumer, not merely a shared protocol.

I think that one good aspect of RSS is its ubiquity. Several apps already in use in this Intranet are RSS-aware and can be wired into this system with a minimum of work.

Without wanting to revisit the previous arguments too much, I might as well summarise them for completeness. I can envisage only two useful strategies for a syndication format:

  • Fixed contract: Specify a unique set of obligations for producer and consumer including both syntax and semantics. eg. RSS 0.90
  • Negotiated contract: Specify obligations of syntax, but encourage producers to offer a complete semantic representation, and allow consumers to build a customised syndication from within it. eg. RDF.


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