Immediate Action Feeds: mark woodman describes a new Syndication Pattern

Posted by pat 271 days ago

Congratulations to Mark Woodman who published his first article on today, Putting RSS to Work: Immediate Action Feeds.

Mark has started a conversation a few months ago about identifying Syndication Design Patterns. In his article he describes the first pattern that he identified: Immediate Action, that he summarizes this way:

A link from information to action is not good enough. I will provide an immediate point of action to the user directly in my feed whenever possible.

He then gives out several examples of how early syndication tinkerers, like Russell Beattie and Danny Ayers, but also eBay have used that pattern. His article is published at a perfect time, because yesterday, FeedBurner announced its new FeedFlare service that implements this pattern in a generic way, and plan to provide an API that will allow developers to add Immediate Action services to FeedFlare enabled feeds.

Mark is a commiter in the ROME Atom/RSS Java utilities project, where with others he created our Aqueduct persistence API subproject, and he organized our logo contest. I'm a big believer in the interest of the Immediate Action pattern since Alejandro Abdelnur, Adrian Caneva, and myself have been playing with the idea of a syndication engine based on this pattern.

There are many issues associated with implementing Immediate Action, that I will get to in a later post: support for cookies, IFrames, javascript. Feedburner sidesteps them with the classic hack of using pictures to represent the actions, which avoids the item to be refreshed everytime there is an action change. It feels like at the beginning of the web, when images and imagemaps where used as a primary vehicles for interaction. I hope that the syndication community will be able to come up with nicer ways to implement this over the next few months, in order to be able to implement the pattern using the Ajax style that proved so user friendly for web application. I trust the community to perform this transition from images to ajax in the next 6-12 months.

Thanks to Mark for helping structure the field through pattern definitions: as Jesse James Garrett proved when he coined the term Ajax for a style of web application development, words and definitions really help a technology to get momentum.


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