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XML payloads in feeds (was: Re: Use cases)

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2011 11:34:15 +0200
Message-Id: <FE23DD35-3F8A-4839-BB58-21EAAAF5FCAF@iki.fi>
To: public-html-xml@w3.org
On Jan 7, 2011, at 00:01, Sam Ruby wrote:

> I assert that from time to time one will come across a document fragment which has become disassociated from its media type.  I provided as an example of this: the rss 2.0 description element.  Henri asked if Atom solves this.  While it is correct that Atom provides a means to identify such content unambiguously, I further assert is that we can't assume that either RSS 2.0 is going away or that RSS 2.0 will be corrected in any reasonable period time.

The ambiguity in RSS 2.0 descriptions isn't about HTML vs. XML. It's about HTML vs. plain text, so I think bringing up RSS 2.0 is a distraction. For all practical purposes, it's de facto settled that RSS 2.0 description is HTML and not plain text. (RSS 2.0 title at least used to be less clear. In retrospect, what the AtomPub group should have done instead of doing Atom is researching which way of processing RSS 2.0 titles is more compatible with existing content and proclaim that as the one true conforming way of processing RSS 2.0 titles..)

Thus, if Humpty Dumpty tries to put XML in an RSS 2.0 description, for all practical purposes, it gets processed as HTML, so the situation is no different from trying to serve XML as text/html.

Now, if someone really wants to put arbitrary XML in a feed item description, that person should use Atom since RSS 2.0 doesn't support arbitrary XML descriptions. But there's no guarantee that anyone cares to write feed consumers that do anything useful with non-Web vocabulary Atom descriptions, so the pragmatic answer is to transform the XML vocabulary into (X)HTML/SVG/MathML for publication.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Friday, 7 January 2011 09:34:49 UTC

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