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everything you need to know about rss

History of RSS

RSS was first invented by Netscape. They wanted to use an XML format to distribute news, stories and information. Netscape refined the version of rss and then dropped it. Userland Software to control of the specficiation and continued to develop it releasing a newer version. A non-commercial group picked up RSS at the same time and based on their interpretation of the Netscape's original concept of RSS they too released a new version. UserLand was not happy with the non-commercial version and continued development of their own version of RSS (Really Simple Syndication), eventually UserLand released RSS v2.

Another View of the History of RSS
What is the history of RSS?
The history of RSS can be traced back to 1997, and the creation of Resource Description Framework. Resource Description Framework is also known as RDF. RDF was created by a man named, Ramanathan V. Guha. RDF is similar to RSS.

The mark up language RDF, was used to store metadata. Metadata is basically information about information, for example if there is an article or a news report, the metadata would be the author, the language, the copyright and all of the information related to the article or news report. In 1999 Netscape created a standard named RSS version 0.90. This was the beginning of RSS as we know it today. Dan Libby, an employee of Netscape improved version 0.90 and released RSS version 0.91. Dave Winer, an employee at Userland also created a new version of RSS. He too named it, RSS version 0.91, creating confusion, because the two versions of RSS were named the same but the specifications were slightly different. Unfortunately this was the beginning of a trend.

Netscape's RSS team abandoned RSS development, because it was dubbed too complicated for what they were trying to accomplish. Meanwhile Rael Dornfest at O'Reily released RSS version 1.0. The new specification by O'Reily was based on the RDF standard rather than the previous versions of RSS. RSS 1.0 was incompatible with previous RSS versions. The specification caused significant marketplace confusion because though RSS 1.0 had the same purpose as the 0.90 series, the specifications were very different. In an attempt to minimize further confusion Userland named their next release RSS version 2.0. RSS 2.0 is very similar to the 0.9 series and is generally considered compatible, while RSS Version 1.0 remains very different.

Harvard Law accepted responsibility for the RSS 2.0 specification because Dave Winer of Userland, found that competitors were leary of using the standard he had a hand in creating. In order for the specification to be endorsed by all it was donated to a non-commercial third party, Harvard Law school. Harvard Law is now responsible for the future development of the RSS 2.0 specification. What is XML? XML or eXtensible Markup Language is a mark up language.

RSS History

There are a lot of folk legends about the evolution of RSS.

Here's the scoop, the sequence of events in the life of RSS, as told by the designer of most of the formats.

  1. scriptingNews format, designed by DW at UserLand. 12/27/97.

  2. RSS 0.90, designed by Netscape, for use with, which also supported scriptingNews format. The only thing about it that was RDF was the header, otherwise it was plain garden-variety XML. 3/15/99.

  3. scriptingNews 2.0b1, designed by DW at UserLand, enhanced to include all the features in RSS 0.90. Privately DW urged Netscape to adopt the features in this format that weren't present in RSS 0.90. 6/15/99.

  4. RSS 0.91, designed by Netscape, spec written by Dan Libby, includes most features from scriptingNews 2.0b1. "We're trying to move towards a more standard format, and to this end we have included several tags from the popular <scriptingNews> format." The RDF header is gone. 7/10/99.

  5. UserLand adopts RSS 0.91, deprecates scriptingNews formats. 7/28/99.

  6. The RSS team at Netscape evaporates.

  7. UserLand's RSS 0.91 specification. 6/4/00.

  8. RSS 1.0 published as a proposal, worked on in private by a group led by Rael Dornfest at O'Reilly. Based on RDF and uses namespaces. Most elements of previous formats moved into modules. Like 0.90 it has an RDF header, but otherwise is a brand-new format, not related to any previous format. 8/14/00.

  9. RSS 0.92, which is 0.91 with optional elements, designed by DW at UserLand. 12/25/00.

  10. RSS 0.93 discussed but never deployed. 4/20/01.

  11. MetaWeblog API merges RSS 0.92 with XML-RPC to provide a powerful blogging API. 3/14/02.

  12. RSS 2.0, which is 0.92 with optional elements, designed by DW, after leaving UserLand. MetaWeblog API updated for RSS 2.0. While in development, this format was called 0.94. 9/18/02.

  13. RSS 2.0 spec released through Harvard under a Creative Commons license. 7/15/03.

On July 15, 2003, UserLand Software transferred ownership of its RSS 2.0 specification to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

serLand is a leading developer of tools that produce and consume RSS, and originator of the RSS 2.0 specification. The specification, which was previously copyrighted, is now licensed under terms that allow it to be customized, excerpted and republished, using the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike license.

The UserLand disclaimer and copyright is archived on the Harvard website; however it now no longer applies to the RSS 2.0 specification. Since UserLand specifically disclaimed ownership of the format that the specification describes, no transfer took place on the format itself.

An independent advisory board has been formed to broaden the public understanding of the uses and benefits of RSS, and to guide developers who create RSS applications. The initial members of the board are Dave Winer, Berkman fellow and author of the RSS 2.0 spec; Jon Udell, lead analyst for InfoWorld and columnist for the O'Reilly Network; and Brent Simmons of Ranchero Software, author of NetNewsWire, a leading RSS-based application.

Other versions of the history of RSS

Web RSS History - History of the RSS Fork for a political history, and RSS Links for the evolution of some of the specific technical features.


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