Windows RSS Platform


Hello, Walter from the land of IE Program Managers here. You might have seen or read about the RSS functionality in the user interface of IE7 Beta 2 Preview. There is a bit more to it then just letting users subscribe and read feeds from the IE7 user interface. The RSS functionality in IE7 is “powered” by the Windows RSS Platform. The Windows RSS Platform API encapsulates 3 main components: Common Feed List, Feed Synchronization Engine, and Feed Store.


The RSS functionality in IE7 is built on top of these components. While we previously announced that the Windows RSS Platform would be available for Windows Vista, we are extremely pleased to announce that the Windows RSS Platform will also be available as part of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows XP 64-bit.


The Windows RSS Platform is available to any application. The idea is that applications can utilize the Windows RSS Platform to become RSS enabled without having to re-implement basic RSS building blocks. This can significantly reduce the time and effort application developers have to invest in order to integrate RSS into their programs.


That’s all great, but what does that mean? And why is a Windows RSS Platform a good idea? Glad I asked 😉 Let me tell you about that.


Like many of you, I’ve been running several RSS applications (aggregators, pod casters, etc…) for some time and am subscribed to close to 100 feeds. Each time I start using another RSS application I play the “game” of OPML export and import. This quickly becomes a hassle, especially when I lose track of feeds because I subscribed to or deleted feeds in different applications and hence my feed lists are no longer in sync.


This is where the Common Feed List of the Windows RSS Platform can help. Multiple applications can read, add, or delete from the Common Feed List and hence are “sharing” the user’s list of subscribed feeds. IE7 is one such application. When you discover and subscribe to feeds in IE7, it adds them to the Common Feed List and the new subscription is available to other applications. Not only can the user benefit from multiple applications using the Common Feed List, but we expect that over time, online services will provide tools that synchronize the Common Feed List with their services. This will allow roaming of the user’s subscription list not only between applications, but also between computers.


But wait, there’s more!


I mentioned two other components above: Feed Synchronization Engine and Feed Store. Together with the Common Feed List, these components allow application developers to include support for RSS feeds without having to becomes an expert in RSS formats, synchronization schedules, enclosure downloads – or even XML(!).


Here’s what the Windows RSS Platform provides for developers:



  • Support for every major RSS and Atom format, as well as many popular extensions.
  • Background scheduled updates.
  • Support for server-friendly technologies like conditional GETs and RFC 3229 for feeds.
  • Bandwidth-friendly enclosure downloads using Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).
  • API exposing a simple object model for feeds as well as direct access to the raw XML stream.

All of this functionality is available as shared technology as part of IE7 on Windows Vista and down-level. As a developer, including RSS support in your application can be amazingly easy.


I’m sure that many of you are interested in more details of the API, features, and implementation. Over the next few weeks we will post about those here on the RSS team blog. Leave us your comments and questions.


 – Walter


Comments (9)

  1. Sounds great.

    I’m not a Window’s developer so I’m hoping the API is available through Javascript calls, something like Greasemonkey in Firefox.

    I’m hoping to get in on the fun is all. : )

  2. Christian says:

    Hi!

    I’d like to know where the RSS-feeds are stored on the harddrive.

    Is it true that only 200 items will be cached?

    Will there be a way to archive them?

    Will the next Outlook also use this API?

    Thanks!

    Christian

  3. Ronald Kleverlaan says:

    Hi,

    Will there also be a possibility to store these RSS (or other XML) feeds on an online server and/or use webservices to retrieve information from it?

    Regards,

    Ronald

  4. Why RSS? I’m curious as to why Microsoft decided to build upon RSS instead of the more well-specified and formally standard Atom format? While they both provide roughly identical functionalities to an end user, Atom was built with standardization and extensibility in mind.

    I realise RSS has a larger marketshare at this point in terms of feeds broadcast, but this really should be of no concern as almost all software works with both formats and that the vast majority of internet users have no idea what RSS even is. Atom is more friendly to developers and seems to me it would have made a better platform base.

  5. Walter says:

    Brian – See above where it says:

    Support for every major RSS and Atom format, as well as many popular extensions.

  6. Danny Ayers says:

    I’m curious about what data can be maintained in the Common Feed List. Are arbitrary attributes already available on the feed objects, or would this require a fair amount of customisation/subclassing?

    I’ve a specific bunch of application functionality in mind, see :

    http://dannyayers.com/archives/2006/02/03/now-make-it-easier-to-unsubscribe-from-feeds/

  7. Charlie Wood says:

    It looks like support for secure feeds (https + basic HTTP auth) is spotty in IE7b2. I can subscribe to such feeds, but when they try to update they don’t pass the username/password (even when prompted by a 401) so they never refresh.

  8. Eric Lunt says:

    Thanks for the info, Walter. Quick question: will the user-agent as reported by the Feed Synchronization Engine be distinct from the user-agent as currently reported by IE7? It would be useful to be able to distinguish between an active subscription and a "browser visit" to a feed.

    Thanks!

    Eric Lunt

    CTO, FeedBurner

  9. unhappy says:

    The Beta 2 release notes point to this blog entry to explain why Offline Favorites and Scheduled Offline Favorites have been removed in Beta 2.

    I have pages that don’t have RSS/Atom feeds that I need to read offline – how can I do this in Beta 2? How can I force a synchronization just before I go offline so that I have the latest pages while I spend the day working with out network access?

    IE Build: 7.0.5346.5