in Programming, Technology

Dodged the XML bullet

Years ago, when XML was the new hotness, I kept meaning to learn it. (I mean, I learned it, except the headers and CDATA, but I never figured out how to use XPath or XQuery or XSLT or do anything useful with it. I learned just enough to write a toolchain that emits an RSS feed that iTunes is happy with and stopped there. Tidy is your friend.)

Maybe I dodged a bullet. The other day Manton Reece and Brent Simmons came up with JSON Feed, a replacement (or at least an alternative to) Atom and RSS. Suits me. I prefer YAML to JSON, but I’d take either one over XML even if I could only see them upside down in a mirror.

It’s not there any more, but in their first announcement (quoted here), Reese and Simmons committed a gaffe and said what they thought:

developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs.

Duh. But the rationale they state now is still true, if a little less transparent.

While I’m thinking about it: a pet peeve. RSS says that <pubDate> wants an RFC 822 compliant timestamp for feeds, but good luck if you’re in Alaska, which is part of the US not in the big four time zones. (Use Zulu -0900 instead.)

Updated. More brutal honesty:

Reece and Simmons decided the time was right to build an updated syndication format, as more and more developers are refusing to work with XML.

“I believe that developers (particularly Mac and iOS developers, the group I know best) are so loath to work with XML that they won’t even consider building software that needs an XML parser,” Simmons said. “Which says to me that JSON Feed is needed for the survival of syndication.”