Last month Anil Dash commented on recent announcements about Microsoft's strategy around Web protocols in a post entitled Atom Wins: The Unified Cloud Database API where he wrote
AtomPub has become the standard for accessing cloud-based data storage. From Google's GData implementation to Microsoft's unified storage platform that includes SQL Server, Atom is now a consistent interface to build applications that can talk to remote databases, regardless of who provides them. And this milestone has come to pass with almost no notice from the press that covers web APIs and technology.
I don't think the Atom publishing protocol can be considered the universal protocol for talking to remote databases given that cloud storage vendors like Amazon and database vendors like Oracle don't support it yet. That said, this is definitely a positive trend. Back in the RSS vs. Atom days I used to get frustrated that people were spending so much time reinventing the wheel with an RSS clone when the real gaping hole in the infrastructure was a standard editing protocol. It took a little longer than I expected (Sam Ruby started talking about in 2003) but the effort has succeeded way beyond my wildest dreams. All I wanted was a standard editing protocol for blogs and content management systems and we've gotten so much more.
Microsoft is using AtomPub as the interface to a wide breadth of services and products as George Moore points out in his post A Unified Standards-Based Protocols and Tooling Platform for Storage from Microsoft which states
For the first time ever we have a unified protocol and developer tooling story across most of our major storage products from Microsoft:
The unified on-the-wire format is Atom, with the unified protocol being AtomPub across all of the above storage products and services. For on-premises access to SQL Server, placing an AtomPub interface on top of your data + business logic is ideal so that you can easily expose that end point to everybody that wants to consume it, whether they are inside or outside your corporate network.
And a few weeks after George's post even more was revealed in posts such as this one about FeedSync and Live Mesh where we find out
Congratulations to the Live Mesh team, who announced their Live Mesh Technology Preview release earlier this evening! Amit Mital gives a detailed overview in this post on http://dev.live.com.
You can read all about it in the usual places...so why do I mention it here? FeedSync is one of the core parts of the Live Mesh platform. One of the key values of Live Mesh is that your data flows to all of your devices. And rather than being hidden away in a single service, any properly authenticated user has full bidirectional sync capability. As I discussed in the Introduction to FeedSync, this really makes "your stuff yours".
Okay, FeedSync isn't really AtomPub but it does use the Atom syndication format so I count that as a win for Atom+APP as well. As time goes on, I hope we'll see even more products and services that support Atom and AtomPub from Microsoft. Standardization at the protocol layer means we can move innovation up the stack. We've seen this happen with HTTP and XML, now hopefully we'll see it happen with Atom + AtomPub.
Finally, I think it's been especially cool that members of the AtomPub community are seeing positive participation from Microsoft, thanks to the folks on the Astoria team who are building ADO.NET Data Services (AtomPub interfaces for interacting with on-site and cloud based SQL Server databases). Kudos to Pablo, Mike Flasko, Andy Conrad and the rest of the Astoria crew.
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