On WordPress dropping feeds!

Rumour has it that there are plans to drop various older feed formats from WordPress, and opinion on this seems to be split. I’m not involved with the development of WordPress but I use wordPress, a lot, so I thought I’d spout a few words on the matter.

Owen over on Asymptamatic has weighed in on the matter saying that he wouldn’t mind RDF / RSS 1.0 being dropped solely because of services which scrape you data via RDF.

I’m not sure what service requires one of the feed formats we’re suggesting for retirement; one that can’t use one of the other formats. And as a blogger, are you really concerned about those services that you didn’t even know existed? I, for one, am unnerved that my data would be used that way, and look forward to turning RDF off on principle.

Danny Ayers on the other had would like to see it stay. He’s a Sematic Web developer, and seem to think that while the removal of RDF support wouldn’t kill off Semantic Web applications for WordPress, it would make developers

considerably less likely to choose WordPress if it lacks any RDF support. To put it another way, I think the SemWeb community is in a position to say “Go on then, ditch RSS 1.0, see if we care…” ;-)

So, after reading these, and a number of other postings on the matter, I find myself siding with the core of Owens argument on the matter, which, at least to me appears to be this. Currently WordPress process feeds via four different scripts. What Owen has suggested in his blog is that feed support is reduced to a robust architecture in WordPress that can be accessed easily by plugin developers. That way, all feed types can be supported, and the WordPress developers can focus on a solid architecture and on improving the blogging platform itself.

This isn’t a bad idea. As far as I understand it, all feeds, while processed differently rely on the same data source, so why the need for four different scripts to be maintained, with each one poling the database individually, when you can just one architecture developed that will output data to plugins that convert the data to the required format.

This would be a win – win situation right? Everybody would have the feed support that they want, WordPress would have a more robust architecture for dealing with feeds, and the developers could focus more on improving the WordPress software itself.

Of course, this would require a major amount of work in the short term. It certainly wouldn’t be accomplished by the release of WordPress 2.01, but maybe it could make it into a 2.1 or 2.2 release. Certainly, once it’s been implemented, it should be easier to maintain.

Anyway, that’s just my 2 kroner!