Jeremy Allaire has proposed “a simple data language that can enhance RSS 2.0 applications, expanding it’s role into a much broader range of data-oriented applications, rather than it’s current, predominant focus on news and content-oriented applications.” The hope: “RSS-Data will open up a much wider range of data syndication applications layered on top of RSS. Whether it be a calendar data exchange format, or a better way to do trackbacks and threaded comments, RSS-Data has the potential to make RSS much more powerful than it is today.”

I think this is a good idea. We have been looking at how RSS can be applied to enterprise events. We have also built a software bridge called Events Horizon, which can generate an RSS feed from any ODBC-compliant database. This lets an enterprise set up regular updates/alerts which can be delivered to users via the Info Aggregator.

Some further discussion:

Jeremy Allaire’s additional comments

Mitch Ratcliffe: “If this were to take shape rapidly, without the requisite wrangling between competing providers of syndication tools, it should provide a foundation for organizing a wide range of data types (text, audio, video, Flash, voice connections) into a syndication feed for coherent consumption by users who would not need to manage multiple applications to access all ‘the stuff’ in the feed.”

Russell Beatie: “Okay, now turn this around. Now what happens is instead of having a server that’s waiting for method calls via a push, your client sits and *pulls* the method calls via RSS. You can have a local method called addAlarmToCalendar(Datetime date) among others, then listen to an RSS feed for updates. When an RSS item has that method call embedded into its XML, when your aggregator sees that item it will trigger the call and set an alarm locally for you. You could set up these types of events, triggers, and even “chain” methods – i.e. once my alarm method is called, I can then put write out the call into another RSS feed which will alert other clients, etc…It’s quite an interesting idea. If the format is kept as compatible as possible with XML-RPC, I should be able to strip out the call from RSS automatically and pass it to Apache’s XML-RPC library (using Java of course) without having to mess with a thing. Method calls become like namespaces using the data becomes much more flexible. You could have multiple ‘plug-ins’ into your aggregator which understand various calls as they are developed.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.