GData and Open Standards

» 23 April 2006 » In conversation, edgeio, News »

Last week Google introduced GData to “provide a simple standard protocol for reading and writing data on the web”. Based on ATOM 1.0 and RSS 2.0, this represents a significant step for Google towards adopting standard protocols that may one day open more of their applications to 3rd party development. At edgeio, we believe transparent access to data is a fundamental principle for all modern web applications to follow, especially when those applications republish content from 3rd parties.

We are especially interested in how GData will change the way people publish large datasets to Google Base. Since launching in February, edgeio has resisted numerous requests to support one of the many proprietary CSV file formats commonly used to transfer online commerce data. We firmly believe that the future is in standardized transport formats like RSS and Google’s move is a strong indication that others agree.

While we applaud Google’s move towards RSS, like Richard MacManus, we wonder why Google has not embraced semantic formats already developed by the Internet standard community. The GData specification, introduces us to the Google namespace and elements that handle contacts, location, events, etc. Yet these are already described by hCard, hCalendar, and various RDF elements like geo . In fact, Google may have taken a step backwards by defining things like gd:postalAddress which have no structure compared to existing formats. The Google approach works when you have a comprehensive geo coder and the necessary maintenance, but where does that leave smaller development organizations?

At edgeio we hope to see open standards prevail for both data transport and semantics. Like most modern web services, we rely heavily on RSS and ATOM for data acquisition and distribution. In future releases of edgeio we will be introducing more extensive support for microformats and, of course, encouraging the development of new formats like hListing.

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