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A registry for one click feed subscription, anyone?

You'd think we'd know by now that centralized registries are often a bigger problem than the one they purport to solve. The problem posed this time is One-Click Subscription, one I think whose solutions invloves getting the client browsers to dispatch on something. Almost all browsers have a plugin/dispatch architecture - that's how IE or Mozilla knows to pops up your mail client or run Acrobat Reader.

Aside from the considerations that come with any centralized model, a registry for subscribing to feeds feels like overkill. The argument for a registry seems to be based on the notion that feeds are not served with the correct media-type so getting the browser to dispatch is a problem. This can be solved for most users by providing a right-click "subscribe to this" menu option for the use to use on a URL (we do it already for "blog-this"). It can be solved by creating a new URI scheme (feed://) - that seems to lack technical elegance in some quarters (including my own it should be said, but if a registry is coming down the pipe I might reconsider). It can be solved by getting ISPs to have Apache serve content correctly. It can be solved by providing an @rel attribute in the link.

Yet, some people already want to figure out the business model for supporting a registry - that should be setting off alarm bells right there - central control points are not a sound basis for robust open architectures. Even then, getting a client browser to open up a client feed reader via one click doesn't like a basis for a business, not when existing infrastructure is good enough.

Probably it'll be solved using a collection of techniques - feed:// URIs, media-type, right-click, content scanning for @rel and so on. A hybrid approach may lack technical purity but the user for the most part won't have to care about what's going on - and it beats the bejeesus out of a registry, which is only sustainable by conserving complexity for the benefit of the registry owner.

January 29, 2005 01:03 PM

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There's a certain latency in blogosphere communication, it's a definitely a viscous medium. More sub-related material Bill de hÓra mentions alarm bells, Tim Bray isn't averse to a centralized registry and points to John Robb and Phil Windley on the... [Read More]

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