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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

rss.js

With all of the JSON Feed hubbub recently I thought it was interesting to read Dave Winer’s post re: how he had created a JSON spec based on RSS in 2012 called rss.js:

I wanted to see if there was interest among developers for a JSON version of RSS. I put up a website, with comments, and added a JSON feed to my blog (technically it was JSONP). Wired even asked me to write a piece about it.

More time needs to pass to see if JSON Feed has longer legs than rss.js. But my guess is that Winer, as usual, was very early with this idea and that developers weren’t nearly as fed up with XML then as they are today. In fact, I’d bet there are JavaScript developers today that have never had to parse an XML feed of any sort (RSS or otherwise) because they’ve only needed to deal with JSON.

JSON Feed to Twitter using PHP

In 2009 I scrawled together a simple PHP script that tweeted links based on an RSS feed. I then updated it to support OAuth and open sourced it on GitHub.

I haven’t really touched it since (though I get about 3 emails a month about it). Just a small update here and there.

This morning, with all of the JSON Feed hubbub going on, I decided to recreate that same simple script to parse JSON Feed rather than RSS. I also updated to the latest release of the PHP Twitter OAuth class by Tijs Verkoyen.

You can download the latest release or clone the repository on GitHub.

This took me mere minutes thanks to JSON Feed being much easier to deal with.

Titleless posts

Dave Winer re: NetNewsWire adding support for titleless items in a RSS or JSON Feed:

I got an email from NetNewsWire user Frank Leahy, requesting that I add titles to my feed for items that don’t have titles.

This is an issue that is going to continue to grow. With services like Micro.blog and post formats like my status updates… these are tweet-like posts that do not have titles. Just like SMS messages that are emails without a subject line. We’re going to see this more and more. Rather than apps or services asking publishers to add titles, the apps and services should just get ahead of the curve on this and add support for titleless posts.

JSON Feed WordPress plugin

Manton Reece just released the JSON Feed WordPress plugin into the WordPress directory. Making it mad easy to install and support the new spec.

WP Admin → Plugins → Add New, then search for “jsonfeed”.

I’ve updated to this version in the directory so that all future updates come from there as well.

Manton Reece on JSON Feed

Manton Reece, co-author of JSON Feed, in an interview with Ben Brooks:

With JSON Feed, it’s not about disrupting RSS exactly. RSS is great and widely deployed; it’s not going anywhere. But we can take what was good about RSS, improve a few things, and maybe jumpstart new tools and apps that work together. Developers use JSON everywhere now instead of XML, and Brent and I felt that maybe XML was even holding RSS and blogging back.

As I thought. These are great reasons for JSON Feed to exist.

The rest of the interview is worth reading as well.

John Gruber on JSON Feed

John Gruber:

The DF RSS feed isn’t going anywhere, so if you’re already subscribed to it, there’s no need to switch. But JSON Feed’s spec makes it possible for me to specify both a url that points to the post on Daring Fireball (i.e. the permalink) and an external_url that points to the article I’m linking to. The way I’ve dealt with that in the RSS (technically Atom, but that’s sort of beside the point) is a bit of a hack that’s caused problems with numerous feed readers over the years.

John has linked to a slew of things this week re: JSON Feed so run over to Daring Fireball (increase the font size a few bumps) and catch up.

He mentions an interesting advantage of JSON Feed’s spec that I hadn’t thought of. DF Style Links, which are Daring Fireball’s way of linking to things wherein the headline is the link to the story and somewhere in the body is the link to Daring Fireball’s permalink, throws many feed readers for a loop. As I’ve switched feed readers over the years I’ve had to practically beg the developers to make small tweaks for Daring Fireball’s feed. In the beginning (early 2000s) that was harder than now as John’s blog is massively popular. Looks like JSON Feed makes it a bit easier.

Jeremy Keith on JSON Feed

Jeremy Keith:

I don’t know if syndication feeds have yet taken on their final form, but they’re the canonical example of 927ing.

🙂

See also.

JSON Feed

Manton Reece and Brent Simmons have created a new specification for creating feeds using JSON. They write:

We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs.

JSON Feed has been implemented on a few platforms already and it was talked about a lot since its debut. I’m glad someone has created a spec around this so that the developers that would like to use this can now rally behind a unified specification. However, JSON Feed won’t be replacing RSS any time very soon.

RSS is something you could call a “good enough” solution. It is already in place, tons of stuff supports it, and works fine. And while the developers of all of the apps and services that use RSS could update their software to create and parse JSON Feed it is doubtful they will very quickly as the benefits aren’t all that great. The advantage of JSON Feed mostly comes when creating new services not replacing old ones.

I don’t think Manton and Brent believe JSON Feed will replace RSS. I don’t think that is why they created the spec. I believe they feel this is a good alternative for the developers that would like to use it and that they wrote the spec out of a need that they had. Which is good.

I’ve discussed the benefits of replacing RSS with JSON in the past. Me, in June 2015 on one of the benefits of replacing RSS with JSON:

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.

So while there are definite benefits, it is doubtful that RSS is going anywhere for a long time. There have been a few attempts to replace RSS with something that is smaller and easier to parse over the years and they simply didn’t catch on. This weekend Dave Winer (the inventor of RSS) chimed in on JSON Feed and he has a similar reaction to it as I have had; it is great that the specification exists but it will not be replacing RSS for news or blogs any time soon.

I’ve added a JSON feed to this blog because Manton created the WordPress plugin already.

Side note: How did I not see this one coming?