One little step for a broader RSS adoption

Last month, seeking public feedback via their blog, the Microsoft RSS team posted a series of icons for IE7 that are meant to show the presence of a feed on a page. Users of Firefox are familiar with the following icon: Firefox RSS icon, while users of Safari RSS are familiar with this one: Safari RSS icon. Several people suggested that Microsoft should work with Mozilla to reuse the Firefox icon, and not only they did, but they all agreed that it would be in the user's best interest. We're stuck with orange, but at least that's one less divergence in a sea a confusion...

rss2.gif rssxml.gif rssrdf.gif rss20.gif Manila RSS icon rssyahoo.gif Newsgator RSS icon
(I am not going to fetch them all, and that's not even a new issue.)

Now if some significant actors would agree to call all those feeds something a little less geeky than RSS, Atom and whatnot, this would be an even greater step to make this technology popular outside the circle of über geeks and A-bloggers. I admit it goes beyond that, but a simple reality check last week -- in an IT circle that is far more receptive of new communications technologies -- showed me that news feeds and aggregators are far from being widespread, lest really grasped, and are still far too complicated to explain quickly to Joe Sixpack.

Someone at Les Blogs 2.0 last week said something along the lines of "Wait until Microsoft calls them web feeds" (yours truly pointed that six month ago), and that might just be it. Greg Reinacker of Newsgator rightly said that no one speaks about "SMTP" to refer to their e-mail. It would be great to see more of that sort of consensus and collaboration here.

And here I realize with irony that this blog still sports two feeds named RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0, as if anyone would care of both the protocol and its version.

3 Comments

I think it's a good thing that IE chose the Firefox feed icon. The good news is the icon is non denominational, so it can be used with any flavor of RSS or Atom.

But for widespread adoption by the French, they will need a pronouceable word. The term "e-mail" caught up because the technology became unavoidable at work. Feeds will never be that indispensable, not any time soon. So we need either a universal word or a meaningful French translation. My feeling is that for the French "web feeds" is worse than "RSS".

And let's not bring Atom into the mix, although I think YOU should have an Atom feed.

Sébastien,

"for the French "web feeds" is worse than "RSS" "> I agree. I use "fil de nouvelles", but it's as ugly as RSS :-/.

"I think YOU should have an Atom feed" > bien reçu, a new site is coming, and there will be different flavors of feeds (even though, really, what's difference does it make in your aggregator?)

Actually my aggregator (Bloglines) botches up Atom 1.0

But as a developer I'd be happy to see widespread support for Atom in aggregators and news readers because Atom is a much more descriptive format, easier to implement and more feature-rich.

I guess the first people to benefit from Atom are the developers but if support is widespread that shouldn't be a problem for the users, and ultimately it should benefit everybody to have a much more interoperable format.

I like "fil de nouvelles", I'll test it in the coming weeks... But the concept of "fil" is not clear enough. I think it presupposes an understanding of "fil" as a "thread" in a newsgroup or forum, which is already too technical. But I don't have a better proposition right now.

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