RSS, Atom, podcasts... Something more out there?

I love the fact we can get updates, and I would rather get them via RSS... But how many formats do we have?


This is not strictly bind to Drupal, but more a general thing. I did had to get involved due to a Drupal related job.

I have lately been heavily exposed to feeds/syndication protocols pushing the boundaries of what I knew in relation to this subject. There are lots of other news services (facebook, twitter, etc...) but the ones described over here provide a common ground/language that's open to anyone. You'll just need a reader (there are many including Firefox/Thunderbird) and you are set to go.

So what's out there? Basically 2 formats plus one for media syndication:
  • The first one to appear was RSS standard which has lots of version and is the oldest one.
  • Then you have Atom which is newer and is suppose to be an improvement over RSS.
  • Finally there is a separate one to syndicate media content called podcast, originally promoted by Apple.

Why so many? Don't know really... I guess we are humans after all. They do give headaches sometimes and they do have it's perks, but they also all use XML as the language of choice. So to distinguish them if you do not know the specific format differences you'll need to read the header.

Finally I want to mention feedburner which is a Google service now which provides some features that it is said to be really useful. I guess it provides flexibility and it can push content to different platforms like facebook or tweeter making your content easy to publish across different mediums.

In terms of Drupal you can use the feeds module to pull data from them into your site. That's involve and takes time to explain so I won't get into it now.