[wp-hackers] JSON Syndication

Elliotte Harold elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Mon Feb 19 17:04:30 GMT 2007

Matt Patenaude wrote:

> Second, though, I would like to suggest a feature. For the past few 
> months I've been getting fed up with XML, and getting to know JSON. XML 
> can be quite clunky, and really isn't suited for syndication when you 
> think about it. 

I call shenanigans on this. XML is exactly suited for serialization, and 
JSON isn't. You cannot easily pass syndication feeds in simple 
name-value maps. There's too much structure there that you lose when 
doing that. If what you have is a name-value map, then JSON may be 
simpler. Syndication data is not made up of name-value pairs though.

The problems RSS had were the result of avoiding XML and trying to make 
it more like JSON. We've been down that road already. It didn't work. 
That's why there's now Atom.

> JSON, on the other hand, is a very lightweight data 
> serialization language, which greatly improves size and simplicity of 
> use of syndicated content (it has direct relationships to programming 
> structures, so it's easier to access programmatically than XML through 
> the DOM).

Well I certainly wouldn't suggest anybody use the DOM, but there are 
alternatives. The problem is DOM, not XML. Try XQuery, XSLT, XPath, or 
XOM to name just a few.

> I'm trying to get a movement going of a syndication format made 
> completely in JSON. The first step, I figured, was to develop an 
> informal specification: 
> http://howto.blogwithtux.org/index.php?title=JSON_feed.

The syndication format I see there is much simpler than what people are 
sending today with Atom. It is essentially a variation of the original 
RSS specs which were massively oversimple for the use case, resulting in 
truly ugly hacks to account for things people needed to do that RSS 
couldn't. Please consider the needs of full text feeds with embedded 
markup. Once you do that JSON's no longer so simple.

And I'm not even talking about the inevitable security bugs that are 
going to open up if people begin executing JavaScript code that 
syndicators send them.

Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Java I/O 2nd Edition Just Published!

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