Sun, 13 Jul 2003

The Syndication Format Not Known As Echo

Following the news of Sam Ruby's snapshot spec, here's my first pass at a newsfeed in the format that will not be known as Echo. This is, of course, a largely theoretical exercise, because, to my knowledge, there are no aggregators yet capable of reading the feed, but it was a nice excuse to get more up-close-and-personal with writing Blosxom flavours and to take a closer look at the spec.

If I can do it, then the fears that the format would be too complicated for vendors to support are pretty much shown to be unfounded, since I'm a freakin' lightweight. It took me about an hour looking at the spec and some sample feeds other people were generating to slap this together. No warranties express or implied, blah blah blah. Known bugs: I'm probably doing the wrong thing with the "modified" field for the entries.

The flavour files I came up with are here (zip file), and are released to the public domain. If you fix any bugs or make any improvements, let me know in the writebacks for this entry. Requires: Blosxom 2.0rc5 (might work with earlier versions, but it's untested), RSS10 plugin (yeah, you read that right -- I avoid reinventing many wheels by using this plugin), foreshortened plugin, lastmodified plugin.

edit: I checked the notEcho feed with a patched version of nntp/rss, and it works! Hooray for interop.

edit: The feed now validates. The updated flavour files require a small patch to the lastmodified plugin, I'm afraid. (included)

:: 10:42
:: /tech/computers/blosxom | [+]
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The Magic Word:
Which planet is closest to the sun? (hint -- it's Mercury...)

One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with
Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just
to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn’t
be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending
to be so outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn’t
understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was
reknowned for being quite clever and quite clearly was so — but not all the
time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He preferred people to be
puzzled rather than contemptuous. This above all appeared to Trillian to be
genuinely stupid, but she could no longer be bothered to argue about.
— Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”