RealTime IT News

Google Feeds Developers New AJAX API

Feed syndication, such as RSS  or Atom , has become the lingua franca for content distribution across the Web.

Yet despite content syndication's obvious popularity, it has been difficult for mashup developers to easily integrate feeds. It's an issue that Google  is aiming to help solve with the release today of its new Google AJAX Feed API.

"Today, if you're a mashup developer, including syndication feeds is extremely difficult due to the security model of JavaScript," Bret Taylor, group product manager for Google's developer products told internetnews.com. "With this API, with just a couple lines of JavaScript, you can include a feed."

Google has gone to great lengths in order to try and be as inclusive as possible when it comes to different syndication formats. The Google AJAX Feed API will handle multiple versions of both RSS and Atom feeds, including Atom 1.0 and 0.3 and RSS version 09, 0,91, 0.92, 0.93, 0.94, 1.0 and RSS 2.0.

Handling all of the different versions of the feed syndication formats is no trivial task. Taylor noted Google had to deal with all of the discrepancies between the formats. The Feed API presents a canonical view of the feed where Google maps all of the similar RSS and Atom elements together to a single attribute.

"For example, all titles and content for each of the entries show up in the same place in the feed, so you can use Atom and RSS in the same way without having to understand the differences between the formats," Taylor said.

In order to achieve the common feed view in the AJAX Feed API, Google is taking full advantage of the JSON (Javascript Object Notation) format.

So, Google presents raw XML for developers that want to see the original and also presents it in JSON because it has become very common for JavaScript developers to access server side data.

Taylor commented that the new Feed API will be freely available from Google. There are no usage limits but there is a restriction that the API is only used on a Web site that is freely accessible to end users.

Google will not be monetizing the effort directly at this point and there will be no advertising component. According to Taylor, it's just a service for mashup developers.

The new AJAX Feed API comes from the same Google development group that works on the Google AJAX Search API.

"We're interested in finding out from AJAX developers what their pain points are," Taylor said. "In this case we have a lot of servers and a lot of experience with feeds and this API seemed like a natural fit."