Colin Devroe

Senior Vice President Condron Media

Reverse engineer. Blogger. Investor. Photographer Hiker. Kayaker.

riverBrowser

Dave Winer is at it again. This time with an open source “browser” that can read a “river” called riverBrowser.

riverBrowser is, at its core, a set of HTML, JavaScript, CSS that can read JSONP files and output them as HTML. What can this be used for? Well, it could — potentially — replace RSS for a number of applications.

Why replace RSS? Two reasons jump out at me;

  1. RSS is a fairly bloated specification. It is a bit verbose and the file sizes for even a small blog can get relatively large quickly. JSON is, by its very nature, a bit more succinct. This would result in faster load times, easier caching, etc.
  2. RSS is typically interpreted with a server side language while JSON is native to JS. It is a small detail but an important one. To properly read an RSS file in JavaScript you’d need an entire class dedicated to churning out a JavaScript object from whatever is in the RSS file. And I can tell you, from experience, this is typically an edge-case nightmare. By using JSON you immediately have an Object to start. No parsing needing.

What can be publish a river? Twitter, blogs, news, applications — you name it. Anything with “a feed”. Creating a JSONP river file thingy should be pretty straight forward. Here is the spec.

When I get a little bit of time I’ll create a JSONP file for riverBrowser for all Barley-powered web sites. Although I love RSS I can see how rivers could replace the now-dated specification.

Update: Dave Winer says I’m wrong about “rivers” replacing RSS. Looks like I have more reading to do. I’ll update this post when I figure it out.