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  • Latest Post - ‏2008-01-30T14:29:24Z by SystemAdmin
17 Posts

Pinned topic Any way to just get updates?

‏2007-12-04T21:55:34Z |
I've been perusing this site among others to get an understanding of RSS and Atom, considering their use for an in-house data subscription feed. There's one thing that just seems glaringly missing to me, and I'm wondering whether I've just missed it, or if it just isn't there. In both RSS and Atom, it seems like the standards describe a document format that lists all of the content items/entries available on a feed. That allows a client to ask a feed provider "what all do you have?". So far so good. But it seems to me that any ongoing client of a feed provider would like to ask "what's new?" (or "what all do you have since datetime T?"). I keep expecting to see a description of a protocol to do that, but I haven't seen it anywhere. I'd expect something very simple, something like a HTTP GET URL parameter with a standard name like "since" and an IETF standard format datetime as its value, that you can tack on to any Atom URI.

I suppose such a thing is not absolutely needed, but it's very wanted. I could hit the Atom URI for a very active blog site every few minutes and sift through the entire 5-year archive that they send down, just to see whether there are one or two (or zero) new items posted. But that seems rather inefficient.

The closest I've seen to this is a fairly recent RFC about feed paging and history, which kinda sorta gets towards this, but not in a particularly client-friendly way.

It seems astonishing to me that anyone could conceive of a syndication "protocol" without the ability for a client to ask "what's new?". What am I missing?

Tom Chatt
Updated on 2008-01-30T14:29:24Z at 2008-01-30T14:29:24Z by SystemAdmin
  • SystemAdmin
    17 Posts

    Re: Any way to just get updates?

    I agree with you that this would be a very useful feature. It's not entirely missing, though; RSS 2.0 feeds can carry an option lastBuildDate element that (according to the spec) includes the last time the content of the channel changed. (I don't have all of the specs memorized, but I'm pretty sure all the different flavors have something similar.) Each item contains a pubDate element which includes (or should include, anyway) the date on which the item was published, so if there is new content, you should be able to suss it out by looking at that element.