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A more low-tech approach to ping hubs

Friday, July 10, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named piano.gifWhen talking with the Google guys earlier today I told them that there was an even more low-tech approach than the <cloud> element for the kind of notification they were doing. As I was reading their spec, I decided to look into it to refresh my memory. I'm writing it up here, so everyone can compare. Permalink to this paragraph

1. Unlike <cloud> this protocol was very widely implemented. Support for this protocol is already baked into almost all blogging software, and (likely) many CMSes.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. The feed indicates which hub it belongs to using a <category> element. You can see an example looking in the feed for my Radio weblog. I've made a copy of that feed in case the link goes bad (I hear that Radio weblog hosting may end in December.) Permalink to this paragraph

This means that if you want to find out if this feed changed, you should monitor the indicated changes.xml file. Permalink to this paragraph

3. When the feed updates, it pings the server that maintains that changes.xml file. The coupling here is much looser than the coupling that Google is using. But the changes.xml file can be read once a minute. If your application can handle up-to-the-minute updates instead of up-to-the-second, then this approach works fine.  Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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