Short descriptions or full entries in the feed: your choice

If this is too terse for you, you now have an alternative.

The debate over whether feeds should provide complete entries or brief descriptions of them is getting religious in its fervor. People on both sides are so damn sure that they’re right.

Personally, I prefer short descriptions. When using Bloglines to catch up on feeds while eating lunch, I like to scan as many entries as possible, and paging down and paging down through someone’s C# code in the Planet XML feed really slows this process down. Still, I can see reasons to want the entire entry in the feed—it saves you some clicks and provides more possibilities for new apps that build on that data. I also hated the dependence of earlier feed formats on CDATA sections to make this possible, so the option to put a type="xhtml" attribute setting on the content element is probably my single favorite thing about Atom 1.0.

It would be nice if all Atom feeds had both the summary and the content, and news readers let you pick which one you want displayed. Meanwhile, I decided to provide two feeds for people to choose from. I was surprised at how few weblogs my web searches turned up that offer this choice. And meanwhile, Norm Walsh and Sean McGrath’s weblog feeds will continue to provide my model for pithy entry descriptions.


By Martin on December 11, 2005 5:18 PM