Coincidentally just as I finished reading a post by Tim Bray about Private Syndication, I got two bug reports filed almost simultaneously about RSS Bandit's support for secure RSS feeds. The first was SSL challenge for non-root certs where the user complained that instead of prompting the user when there is a problem with an SSL certificate like browsers do we simply fail. One could argue that this is the right thing to do especially when you have folks like Tim Bray suggesting that bank transactions and medical records should be flowing through RSS. However given the precedent set by web browsers we'll probably be changing our behavior. The second bug was that RSS Bandit doesn't support cookies. Many services use cookies to track authenticated users as well as provide individual views tailored to a user. Although there are a number of folks who tend to consider cookies a privacy issue, most popular websites use them and they are mostly harmless. I'll likely fix this bug in the next couple of weeks.  

These bug reports in combination with a couple more issues I've had to deal with while writing  code to process RSS feeds in RSS Bandit has givn me my inspiration for my next Extreme XML column. I suspect there's a lot of mileage that can be obtained from an article that dives deep into the various issues one deals with while processing XML on the Web (DTDs, proxies, cookies, SSL, unexpected markup, etc) which uses RSS as the concrete example. Any of the readers of my column care to comment on whether they'd like to see such an article and if so what they'd want to see covered?


Friday, January 28, 2005 2:32:22 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I think this would make an interesting article; I'd imagine you get different classes of problems depending on whether or not the content is machine-generated or possibly human-generated.
With RSS being mostly automated (I'd hope), I suppose some topics might include:
- Deciding which spec'd or non-spec'd extensions and behaviors to support. Popularity? Idealism ?
- Handling issues such as the one you discussed in the netflix top 100 entry. Is RSS Bandit turning into any sort of "special-case soup" ?
Other topics might be
- Error handling: unexpected markup, malformed xml, incorrect namespaces, etc.
- Expecting extensibility.
- Remote entities and references.
Friday, January 28, 2005 3:36:55 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Sounds like a great idea for the next installment of Extreme XML.

I'd really be interested in reading about your experiences with proxies and SSL as I'm currently working with both items.
Saturday, February 5, 2005 3:27:54 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

Great idea! The one issue that gives me more problems than all the others put together is character encoding ... people pasting in "smart quotes" and other characters that don't match the document encoding. This is, of course, not specific to RSS, but it sure seems to show up a lot.

Good luck with the article!
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