March 21, 2003

CNET Reports on Increase in RSS Use

CNET published an article yesterday about the dramatic increase in use of RSS content syndication that has taken place as a result of the weblog phenomenon. The title of the article, "Old data update tool gains new converts", is quite misleading, but there are a number of interesting pieces of information in it. For instance:

The most interesting quote in the article comes from Ben Hammersley, the author of
Content Syndication with RSS
, a soon-to-be-released book from O'Reilly:

RSS is proving to be a nice, robust and easily used tool for moving data...not just news headlines, but everything--from orders and inventory to whether or not the servers are up. Thanks to the tools the RSS development community has made these past few years, it has a great future in the enterprise.

October 30, 2002

Blogdex Renews Itself

Today, we noticed that Blogdex has released a major revision of its website. Version 2.0 apparently went live yesterday.

Blogdex is one of the original weblog headline aggregators. Many of the other sites that do this got the idea from Blogdex.

The most confusing aspect of the renovation may be the link text that says >> track this site. You might think that such a link would add the website that ran the original story to some set of personal preferences. Instead, it shows you a page that lists all of the weblogs that pointed to the story.

January 3, 2002

Canadian Company Claims RDF Standard Infringes on Their Patent reports that UFIL Unified Data Technologies claims the Reference Data Framework infringes on that a U.S. patent it holds. Reference Data Framework (RDF) is an XML-based metadata standard that "allows programmers to write software to access Web resources, such as Web page content, music files and digital photos".

We first learned of this development from Ed Dumbill's article posted yesterday on the O'Reilly Network Web Site. In a related article also posted yesterday, Dale Dougherty pointed out that O'Reilly had received a letter warning it of potential patent infringement.

Perhaps future stories about this alleged patent infringement will illustrate the relationship between the RDF standard and the patent in question. At this point, we can't determine what the relationship is because all of the terminology is different.

November 27, 2001

CTDATA Picked Up by

Headlines from and have begun to appear on NewsIsFree, a news feed aggregation site with over 1,800 sources of headlines. NewsIsFree is a cool Web Site, if you have never seen it. It holds out the promise of allowing you to build your own customized, aggregated story flow from your favorite Weblogs.

According to the NewsIsFree About Us page, the site is run by Mike Krus and Pino Calzo. Looks like they are doing a great job. They turned around a request to add feeds from our sites in less than 3 hours.

May 14, 2001

Syndication Mailing List Produces FAQ for RSS Headline Syndication Format

Scripting News points out that the Yahoo! Groups Syndication Mailing List is in the process of developing an FAQ for all of the RSS Content Syndication Formats.

This is a welcomed development in that many developers have disagreed with the direction that the RSS 1.0 subgroup has taken. Some people with significant historical involvement in headline syndication have criticized the group evangelizing RSS 1.0 as being more interested in supporting the Semantic Web through the Reference Data Format (RDF) than in maintaining continuity with previous RSS versions or human readability of the headline syndication files.

Regardless of the political history of these groups, the FAQ has some useful information that has not been assembled elsewhere. This includes a good list of places where a site's RSS files may be validated and another list of places where RSS files are aggregated.

November 12, 2000

VoiceXML: An Easy Way to Make Your Site Accessible by Phone?

Henry Scheuer told us that we ought to be playing with Tellme and investigating its features. At first glance, Tellme appears to be a voice response interface to certain simple Internet content. However, we dug a little deeper and found Tellme.Studio, a means for building, testing, and publishing Tellme "Phone Sites".

As a result of Tellme.Studio and its underlying XML protocol, we think there is a good possibility that developers will build applications for Tellme, at least as a promotional technique. Read on for more details.

Continue reading "VoiceXML: An Easy Way to Make Your Site Accessible by Phone?" »

November 9, 2000

CTDATA Completes Content Syndication Support for Slash 0.4

CTDATA completed a preliminary version of an implementation of portald for Version 0.4 of the Slash Engine. This allows an administrator of a Slash 0.4 site to define a Slashbox to contain a continuously updated set of headlines from another Web Site. Headlines in RSS 0.9 and 0.91 formats are supported.

This brings the content syndication aspect of Slash 0.4 to feature parity with Slashcode 1.09.

As a result of this development, we plan to deploy a number of RSS Slashboxes on and in the near future.

Continue reading "CTDATA Completes Content Syndication Support for Slash 0.4" »

October 28, 2000

Scripting News Readers' Dinner Held in NYC

Wednesday night, Dave Winer held a dinner for readers of his Scripting News Web Site. The dinner took place at Katz's Deli, a Jewish Deli with "atmosphere" on the Lower East Side of NYC.

Just as Scripting News is interesting its ecelectic mix of issues, the conversation at the dinner ran the gamut from the World Series to the RSS 1.0 standardization effort.

Continue reading "Scripting News Readers' Dinner Held in NYC" »

August 27, 2000

Rationale for RSS 1.0 Articulated

Edd Dumbill has written another excellent article on the proposed RSS 1.0 standard. His most important point is that by increasing compliance with the RDF framework, RSS 1.0 can be more modular than RSS 0.9 and 0.91 are.

CTDATA has been looking for an opportunity to use RSS to indicate the most popular articles on its Web Site, as well as other Web Sites that use our version of the Slash engine. RSS 1.0 apparently will allow us to implement this type of service without making compromises to fit the current rigidly-defined RSS file format.

Continue reading "Rationale for RSS 1.0 Articulated" »

August 25, 2000

rss-dev Group Arguing Over RDF Compliance in RSS 1.0

The RSS 1.0 Specification Working Group (also known as rss-dev) has been extremely active since it started ten days ago. We have not been able to keep up with the flow of messages, so we were a bit surprised to find out that the source of the activity is a dispute about how strictly to comply with the RDF specification.

Continue reading "rss-dev Group Arguing Over RDF Compliance in RSS 1.0" »

August 23, 2000

Edd Dumbill Summarizes Latest Developments of RSS 1.0

Edd Dumbill, the managing editor of, wrote a nice summary of the latest developments in the evolution of the RSS (Rich Site Summary) Content Syndication protocol. He did a particularly good job of giving examples of features that people want to add to RSS.

This summary useful because the big new feature of RSS 1.0 was touted as "namespaces", but a lot of people could not relate that concept to a set of real world features.

August 19, 2000

eGroups' rss-dev List Appears Vital

If the first week is any indication the rss-dev Group on eGroups is going to be a real hotbed of discussion about content syndication. Only time will tell if the group activity will stay high once the RSS 1.0 spec is finished.

Regardless, this discussion has a number of interesting messages posted to it each day. It is worth following if you are supporting RSS, RDF, or another lightweight syndication protocol.

August 14, 2000

RSS Development Mailing List Moves to eGroups; RSS 1.0 Spec Posted There

Rael Dornfest of O'Reilly sent out the following e-mail to subscribers to the RSS list that had been started by O'Reilly:

Bet you didn't remember you were subscribed to any such list :-/ .
This list,, is being shut down in favour of a new
RSS-DEV mailing list housed at eGroups. I invite you to wander on over to, subscribe, and get involved in the
further development of RSS.

Hopefully this will increase participation. We already found some useful documentation in that discussion group's file area: the RSS 1.0 Specification Proposal.

August 13, 2000

Summary of RSS Modularization Debate on has summarized the current proposals for modularization of RSS. The number of new features proposed for inclusion to this specification, and the number of high level developers engaged in the debate indicate how important this standard is.

It's really important that the RSS spec stay unified because it is working so well as a mechanism for integrating independent Web Sites. So, the issues that have been raised over the past six weeks must be understood and closely monitored. This article looks like a good way to get up to speed.

August 7, 2000

Userland Provides a Good Set of RSS Reference Materials

Dave Winer of Userland Software has been a driving force behind the Rich Site Summary (RSS) content syndication format. He has one of the best sets of RSS reference materials on the Web today. We are pointing this out because people have been asking us where they can go to get more information about this increasingly important Web integration standard.

Matt Sergeant Releases Simple RSS Mirroring Tool

The Web Site xmlhack is reporting that Matt Sergeant has written a small RSS mirroring tool in Perl that also has the ability to clean up certain HTML entities that do not translate well in RSS files. By this we mean things like non-USD currency symbols, accented characters, and so on.

This script could be a useful tool in building a robust RSS validator. As far as CTDATA is concerned, there are not enough trustworthy public RSS validators available on the Internet at this time.

August 5, 2000

O'Reilly Hosts RSS Discussion Forum

We just noticed the O'Reilly Network has a discussion forum devoted to RSS issues. It doesn't look too active at the moment, but perhaps it can be a more useful resource if more sites that use RSS publicize it.

July 25, 2000

CTDATA Syndication Script Was Dropping Last Word of Headlines

We note that the RSS file generation script that we wrote was leaving the last word off of each story title. This has been corrected, but it resulted in reporting that the entire story flow in CTDATA.xml was new.

Sorry Dave Winer, but there was nothing we could do to avoid that once it had been identified as an issues. Both the before and after RSS files validated properly. We'll try to keep that script simple and bug free, if we can.

July 22, 2000

Welcome to Visitors from and

Dave Aiello wrote, "On behalf of CTDATA, I would like to extend a special welcome to visitors who found us through and These Web Sites are among the world leaders in the application of Content Syndication techniques."

"CTDATA is a consulting firm that builds database driven Web Sites. We especially like to build weblogs, knowledge management systems, self-managing directories, and other types of sites that help to build virtual communities."

Continue reading "Welcome to Visitors from and" »

What is the Content Syndication Section of

When people in the Web Publishing industry refer to "Content Syndication", they are referring to the automated process of sharing information between two Web Sites. This process is often facilitated by an exchange of information according to one of several popular XML data formats that are generally understood by high end Content Management systems.

The most popular XML standard for Content Syndication at the moment is RSS or Rich Site Summary.

Proper application of Content Syndication is key to creating a Web Site that visitors keep coming back to over time. That's why we created a section of our Web Site to discuss it.