Microsoft has announced Simple Shared Extensions for RSS and OPML. I’m not enough of a geek to understand or explain it all, but even I know this can be a very good and powerful thing. Basically, it allows synchronized cooperative work, allowing a set of data through RSS or OPML to be updated just like in your RSS aggregator.
The classic example is a calendar that exists as an RSS feed. Rather than pushing the last ten items, as a news feed does, an SSE feed would contain structured data. If you change the calendar, the feed changes, and a person can view the whole calendar, with refreshes coming extremely fast through RSS. While some applications have done a good job of public calendars and synchronized calendars, SSE-RSS allows a standard that any application can use. You could create a calendar in Outlook, publish it as RSS, and any calendar app in the world could display that calendar, including web-based apps.
Now, in 2005, almost ten years later, we may be grown-up enough to actually work this way. Microsoft’s new approach to synchronizing RSS and OPML, using methods pioneered in Ozzie’s earlier work, and keeping the “really simple” approach that’s worked so well with networked syndication and outlining, combines the best of our two schools of thought, and this creativity is available for everyone to use. It’s a proud moment for me, I hope for Ray and Jack and the rest of the people at Microsoft, and perhaps for the open development community on the Internet.
And ha also puts out a call for Google (specifically Adam Bosworth) to make this big:
This is how I got into XML in the first place. It was another Microsoft person, Adam Bosworth, who persistently and gently nudged me into working in this space. The result was what we’re working with today, now the ball has been picked up by Ray and Jack Ozzie. They didn’t work at Microsoft when Adam was pushing me. Now he works at Google, who could, with a single act, ratify this work and instantly make it a standard. Such power! One wonders if it will be used. The same power lives at Yahoo and Apple.
In some ways, Microsoft is giving the big “F you” to many of their own proprietary formats. Sure, there are apps in Microsoft that use their own formats, but as more and more applications become RSS-aware, more people will be able to work together even if they have different applications and different platforms, and they will be able to choose the best applications for the job, not the one compatible with their coworker’s applications.
Do you understand now why Ray Ozzie is so important to Microsoft?
Alex Barnett has a great roundup of the reaction.