July 18, 2010

Atom Feeds

Akregator-iconImage via Wikipedia

Atom - The name Atom applies to a pair of related standards. The Atom Syndication Format is an XML language used for web feeds, while the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub or APP) is a simple HTTP-based protocol for creating and updating web resources.

Web feeds allow software programs to check for updates published on a web site. To provide a web feed, a site owner may use specialized software (such as a content management system) that publishes a list (or "feed") of recent articles or content in a standardized, machine-readable format. The feed can then be downloaded by web sites that syndicate content from the feed, or by feed reader programs that allow Internet users to subscribe to feeds and view their content.

A feed contains entries, which may be headlines, full-text articles, excerpts, summaries, and/or links to content on a web site, along with various metadata.

The Atom format was developed as an alternative to RSS. Ben Trott, an advocate of the new format that became Atom, believed that RSS had limitations and flaws—such as lack of on-going innovation and its necessity to remain backward compatible— and that there were advantages to a fresh design.
Proponents of the new format formed the IETF Atom Publishing Format and Protocol Workgroup. The Atom syndication format was published as an IETF proposed standard in RFC 4287, and the Atom Publishing Protocol was published as RFC 5023

Usage- Web feeds are used by the blogging community to share recent entries' headlines, full text, and even attached multimedia files. These providers allow other websites to incorporate the blog's "syndicated" headline or headline-and-short-summary feeds under various usage agreements. Atom and other web syndication formats are now used for many purposes, including journalism, marketing, bug-reports, or any other activity involving periodic updates or publications. Atom also provides a standard way to export an entire blog, or parts of it, for backup or for importing into other blogging systems.

It is common to find web feeds on major Web sites, as well as many smaller ones. Some websites let people choose between RSS or Atom formatted web feeds; others offer only RSS or only Atom. In particular, many blog and wiki sites offer their web feeds in the Atom format.

A feed reader or "aggregator" program can be used to check feeds and display new articles. Client-side readers may also be designed as standalone programs or as extensions to existing programs like web browsers. Browsers are moving toward integrated feed reader functions.

Web-based feed readers and news aggregators require no software installation and make the user's "feeds" available on any computer with Web access. Some aggregators syndicate (combine) web feeds into new feeds, e.g., taking all football related items from several sports feeds and providing a new football feed. There are also several search engines for web feed content.

On Web pages, web feeds (both Atom and RSS) are typically linked with the word "Subscribe" or with the unofficial web feed logo

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