Microsoft proposal: Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS and OPML

(Updating with reactions, below)


Dave Winer:

 "Microsoft has unveiled a new proposal called SSE, which stands for Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS and OPML.

... So we need some way to share subscriptions between different applications, between vendors -- we need an way to do that that works when the lists are small, and one that works when the lists grow large. Most important, it needs to be open, and in order to be really open it has to be simple, so that no vendor can use their large size as a way of keeping smaller competitors out of the market. We've seen that when this happens innovation stops. Let's learn from our past mistakes, and not make it so easy to dominate a market. Compatibility should never be a reason to choose one product over another. Let performance, features and price drive the market, not the obscurity of the wires connecting the apps together."

Ray Ozzie:

"One of the great things about once again having an active blog is that it enables me to engage in discussion about concepts I’m excited about, and that I’m working on, before they’re fully-baked and while they could benefit from others’ involvement.  The first such thing I’d like to introduce here is something we’ve been calling SSE.

... Early on, after we had a prototype going, I met with Dave to tell him about it and perhaps get him involved.  Immediately at our first meeting he spotted its potential to solve something else he had been thinking about – replicating changes among OPML lists or outlines being managed within different services or by different people.  He challenged us to see if the same SSE mechanisms could be applied to OPML.  As it turned out, only minor changes were required.  In essence, by connecting these dots between what we’d done to extend RSS and his vision for OPML, Dave's catalyzing a new form of decentralized collaborative outlining.


... Here’s the draft spec for SSE, and here’s a FAQ that we put together.  A forum where we can talk about it amongst implementers will be forthcoming. 


...One other important point:  We’re releasing the SSE specification under a Creative Commons license – Attribution-ShareAlike.  I’m very pleased that Microsoft is supporting the Creative Commons approach; you can see more about this at in the licensing section at the end of the spec."

It is big day for RSS and OPML.

Update: some reactions starting to trickle in...

Danny Ayers:

"I suppose what really irritates me most here is that they’ve also egregiously ignored the recent progress on syndication data modelling/exchange protocol around Atom. I know you shouldn’t put down to malice what you can explain with ignorance, but I can only imagine this is politically motivated. Microsoft are less likely to get community resistance to “embracing and extending” Dave Winer’s Own Syndication Stack than something community based. I strongly suspect they’re lining themselves up for more serious problems further down the line. Rather than sharing, they’re ringfencing their own territory away from everyone else, a strategy likely to end in tears for them cometh Web 2.0.

But standing back a bit, this could potentially be really useful stuff. Swap in decent identifiers and date formats and this could be the basis of a good sync/diff representation system. Overlay it on Atom and the APP, it could be brilliant. It’s clear a fair bit of effort’s gone into the spec itself, but it’s seriously let down by its dependencies. Rather than being essential material, it’s a cargo cult job."

"I think SSE will be a really big deal. It will enable all kinds of multi-directional syndication and synchronization across many different applications. Who says Microsoft doesn't innovate? Who says Microsoft doesn't participate in the open source community? This is big!"

"By creating and sharing this spec, Microsoft has in a single stroke done three important things. First, it has made RSS much more powerful, particularly as a mechanism for application integration. Second, it has made life a lot easier for people who, like me, are using RSS in ways its original designers never intended. And finally, it has distinguished itself as a true leader in architecting Web 2.0."

Cori Schlegel:

"From my 10 minute lookover of this, I’m pretty excited.  I don’t have time to completely grok the usage or to look for holes right now, but I’d be surprized if there are any deal-killers."

"Ray Ozzie is turning Microsoft upside down and inside out in his role as CTO."

"I need to dig into this much more but so far I like what I’m reading and seeing — at least in theory. Whether it works or not in actual real world application as described above is another thing."

Josesp A. di:

"I believe that this is going to be a tremendously important development, on several levels."

Geek News Central:

"Oh an kudos to Microsoft for releasing it under the Creative Commons License!"

Michael Arrington:

"Wow, am I excited this morning to see Microsoft announce Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE), which turns RSS bidirectional and which is released under the Creative Commons License. I wrote more about this at CrunchNotes, but I want to mention it here because this is an incredibly important technology that will allow entirely new classes of companies to be built."

Mitch Ratcliffe:

"Very slick implementation of RSS. Apparently, based on Ray Ozzie's comments, the SSE system facilitates collaborative interaction by taking some old Notes concepts (tie-breaking which version of data is most current, for example), XML-ifies them, and making subscriptions bi-directional to ensure that further updates are propagated to all participants in a group."


"In some ways, Microsoft is giving the big “F you” to many of their own proprietary formats. Sure, there are apps in Microsoft that use their own formats, but as more and more applications become RSS-aware, more people will be able to work together even if they have different applications and different platforms, and they will be able to choose the best applications for the job, not the one compatible with their coworker’s applications."

Niall Kennedy:

"I think developers will wait and see what implementations of Simple Sharing Extensions take hold within Microsoft before coding against the developing specification."

Dare Obasanjo:

"I hate to sound like a fanboy but SSE is an example of how Ray Ozzie showed up at Microsoft and just started kicking butt. I've been on the periphery of some of the discussions of SSE and reviewed early drafts of the spec. It's been impressive seeing how much quick progress Ray made internally on getting this idea polished and evangelized."

"If you’re a hands-on RSS / XML developer, you should have a look at the SSE specification that Microsoft has made available - hold on to your seats - under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. Two good moves, hands down."

"So, basically, the new SSE standard will change everything.  Microsoft is releasing SSE under the Creative Commons - are they starting to get it or what?  I will be blogging about it further, you can bet on that…"


Tags: OPML, RSS,

Comments (7)
  1. Stewart says:

    Alex, Do you think Microsoft can get over the paper clip office assistant?

  2. MSDNArchive says:

    If you’re talking about ‘bob’, I’m not sure we have. Ghosts of the clippy haunt us still in the corridors…

  3. Danny says:

    Another comment for your list, from James Snell on atom-syntax:


    It’s interesting to see that they’ve reinvented related links and have

    introduced a globally unique id and updated bits to the RSS feed.


  4. MSDNArchive says:

    thanks Danny (where)?

  5. MSDNArchive says:

    thanks Danny.

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