Atom Syndication Format is similar to the Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Atom provides a way to promote websites and blogs through a feed system. Atom was developed to deal with some of the limitations that designers felt existed in the standard RSS feed. Atom works within an XML environment to offer feed information to subscribers just like RSS.
Why Create a Second Feed Format?
This is a valid question. RSS is successful for the most part. One of the biggest problems with RSS is continuing innovation. The RSS 2.0 specification has limited ability to change or expand. This is because Harvard University has the copyright for this format. In some minds, that stifles the invocation possibilities of the RSS feed. Technology changes and the Internet is the seed of change. Developers are always looking for new ways to dazzle with a better Internet mouse trap. Atom has the potential to keep up with those changes. In theory, RSS can also adapt, but only at the whim of the copyright owner or under a new name. Atom is an example of that process.
What are the Significant Differences?
There are some notable differences between RSS and Atom styles of syndicated feeds.
- RSS sometimes gets hung up on structure. RSS allows for the use of either plain text or escaped HTML. This means some symbols in a feed will look odd when they post. You might see
&. Atom has stricter formatting than RSS.
- RSS 2.0 requires a title, link and description for the website, but the individual entries have looser requirements. Atom asks that both feed and individual entries provide a title, unique identifier and update time stamp.
- Atom approaches the XML element tags differently than RSS. For example, in RSS you use the
<description>tag. Atom uses
<summary>and then adds a
<content>tag for more information.
- Atom uses a namespace where RSS does not utilize this XML feature. The Atom namespace looks like this:
Ultimately, either system will do the job. Atom takes a different approach to feed creation and has some unique qualities that distinguish it, but is not as widely utilized. When the average blogger thinks about marketing and syndication, RSS is what pops in their minds.