Tag: opml

OPML autodiscovery

OPML is a file format which is used to save lists of RSS feeds. Very handy, for instance, for copying your list of RSS feeds from one feed reader to another. I uploaded a list of my RSS subscriptions to an OPML file on this server so the Grazr plugin in the sidebar on the right can display them similar to a blogroll.

James Corbett, Ireland’s OPML ambassador, recently advised me to add autodiscovery of OPML to this site. Adding OPML is as simple as adding the following line to the head section of the site’s code:

Why would you want to add OPML autodiscovery to your page code? Frankly, apart from making finding your OPML file easier, I’m not entirely sure!

There’s a Firefox plugin, which lights up a blue icon in the Status bar when you browse to a site which has added the autodiscover code allowing you to view the site owners subscriptions.

Firefox OPML Autodiscovery plugin

There’s a bit of work involved in the management of OPML files. I’m always updating the RSS feeds in my reader adding new feeds and deleting old ones so any OPML file I upload is almost immediately out of date. If there were some way I could have my RSS reader synch with the remote OPML file, that would reduce a lot of the overhead.

Then again, I don’t want to publish all my RSS subscriptions (some are client sensitive) so I’d need some way of synching a subset of my feeds to my OPML file to ensure that the OPML file I’m publishing is an accurate reflection of my current reading.

I can't access my Share Your OPML account

I have written about the site Share Your OPML previously. I think it is a great site however, I can’t remember my password for my Share Your OPML account!

I have checked my email, it wasn’t emailed to me when I set up the account. There is no link on the site to have the password emailed to you. It isn’t covered in the FAQ. There are no contact details for support – what now?

Anyone any ideas?

(It is a pity Share Your OPML doesn’t use some form of federated ID system for login – this would make it far easier in the long term to manage identity over many sites).

If you love your OPML, set it free!

Dave Winer has launched a new site called Share your OPMLMike Arrington and Steve Rubel and quick off the blocks with early reviews.

The site is straightforward enough – you register and you upload your OPML file – this is generally an export of the feeds you are subscribed to in your feed reader. The more geeky OPML users may have lots of OPML files corresponding to different reading lists or interests.

Why is this of interest to anyone? Well for one thing, looking at my Feedburner stats, I can see I have around 500 subscribers to this blog but I have no idea who they are. However, if any of them upload their OPML file to Share Your OPML, I will be able to see immediately that they are subscribed to my feed and therefore I get a better idea of who my subscribers are.

Right now, according to Share Your OPML I have 3 subscribers (ignoring myself!) – but check out who they are –

Share Your OPML tells you who is subscribed to your feed

Other functionality includes the ability to see people with similar reading patterns to yourself – there are great possibilities for cross-pollination here.

You can always upload your OPML and decide not to let people see who you read but if you do that, you won’t get the most from the site. According to Mike Arrington, feed by feed sharing is being added to the application very shortly. In the meantime, if you have some feeds which you would rather not let people know you read (for competitive reasons, or whatever) then you would be better off removing them from your OPML file before uploading it.

In his review Mike also says says:

If tools are added that make SYO [Share Your OPML] the easiest place to manage your OPML (including adding feeds, removing feeds, batch operations, categorization/tagging, etc.), some of the more openminded RSS readers may start to allow customers to store their OPML at SYO instead of with the reader. SYO would become a sort of central registry of people’s OPML files.

While Steve Rubel, in his review, reckons:

Share Your OPML needs the big aggregators to support it. You should have the option in Bloglines, Newsgator, My Yahoo, WIndows Live and the Google Reader to automatically share all or some of your feeds on this site.

If this happens (and I bet it will) Share Your OPML will become an essential tool for marketers. We will use it to understand which feeds have the greatest attention. Further, if it incorporates community tagging, watch out. It might be just the killer app we desperately need to break out influential blogs in different verticals.

One thing it is missing is RSS feeds for the results so I can subscribe to see who is subscribed to my feeds!

Cool online feed aggregator

I got an email this morning from a Tom Atkins. Tom had read about my various issues with FeedLounge and trying to sort out an online RSS Feed aggregator so I can keep my feeds synched across computers. Tom suggested I have a look at an online RSS Feeds aggregator called Gregarius and I did and I have to say I am impressed with it!

Gregarius is designed to run on your web server, allowing you to access your feeds from wherever you want. It is free, open source, web standards compliant (renders XHTML/CSS), supports OPML, has tagging, full text search and is full of AJAXy goodness(!).

What more could you want?

Thanks Tom.

Microsoft becoming more open?

Microsoft made two major announcements overnight – the first is an announcement by Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie that Microsoft are extending RSS under a Creative Commons licence, and calling the extended RSS, Simple Sharing Extensions or SSE.

Russell Beattie likes it:

Adding in SSE namespace could then in theory allow *any* data contained in an item can be kept in sync. Pretty cool, hey? Sort of a universal data communication spec: Anything that any database can spit out, you can keep track of it, synchronize, and manage changes. Very, very cool.

As does Dave Winer (the inventer of (the current flavour of) RSS):

Microsoft’s new approach to synchronizing RSS and OPML, using methods pioneered in Ozzie’s earlier work, and keeping the “really simple” approach that’s worked so well with networked syndication and outlining, combines the best of our two schools of thought, and this creativity is available for everyone to use. It’s a proud moment for me, I hope for Ray and Jack and the rest of the people at Microsoft, and perhaps for the open development community on the Internet.

There’s a draft spec for SSE and a FAQ, if you’d like to know more.

Then Brian Jones, of the Microsoft Office team, made an announcement about the Office XML formats. Brian said:

We are going to bring the Microsoft Office Open XML formats to a standards body with the intention of eventually making the formats an ISO standard. This should really help everyone feel certain that these formats will always be available and fully accessible. We are going to work with Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corporation, NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA and Toshiba to form a technical committee at ECMA International that will fully document all of our schemas so that anyone can understand how to develop on top of them

This is a huge step forward for Office formats – this will clear the way for the simple creation and sharing (mashing) of Office documents server side.

Even more significantly, Brian went on to say:

we are moving away from our royalty free license, and instead we are going to provide a very simple and general statement that we make an irrevocable commitment not to sue. I’m not a lawyer, but from what I can see, this “covenant not to sue” looks like it should clear the way for GPL development which was a concern for some folks.

This is tremendous news – I was moderating a talk recently at Tech Camp Ireland and I remember making a comment on the fact that Microsoft was opening up their Office format and making it XML by default. I was quickly slapped down from the audience (by Colm MacCarthaigh, if memory serves – apologies Colm if it wasn’t you) because I was told it was going to be proprietory and in any case it would all be tied up in licencing. I didn’t have any ammo with which to defend Microsoft at the time (and frankly, not generally being their greatest fan, I wasn’t too upset by the comment!) however, this announcement changes that.

Make it so Brian!

Developments in search

Two search announcements overnight:

The Yahoo! blog search engine is disappointing – from a user interface point of view – the blog search results are hidden away in a sidebar of the main results on the right hand side of the page.
This is the part of many web pages which contains ads and consequently is ignored subconsciously by most users. Also, on a couple of searches I performed on the site, the results are poor compared to its competitors and I note that Scoble had a similar experience.

Chris Pirillo’s Gada.be, on the other hand, is an interesting new take on search. It gives the search string in the domain – so a search for nano becomes http://nano.gada.be/ and a search for iPod Nano becomes http://ipod-nano.gada.be/. Also, amazingly if you add /opml onto the end of the domain name (i.e. http://ipod-nano.gada.be/opml) you are presented with an opml feed for the search which can be imported in to most RSS readers. Gada.be is also optimised for mobile devices which will be more and more important as PDA’s and mobile phones converge.

This is something Scoble has been asking for for some time now!

UPDATE:
Lisa Vaas of eWeek has an excellent review of Gada.be, if you want to know more about it, I suggest taking a look at that.