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Netscape Restores RSS DTD, Until July 134

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-kinda-lame dept.
Randall Bennett writes "RSS 0.91's DTD has been restored to it's rightful location on my.netscape.com, but it'll only stay there till July 1st, 2007. Then, Netscape will remove the DTD, which is loaded four million times each day. Devs, start your caching engines."
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Netscape Restores RSS DTD, Until July

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  • Redirect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cynicalmoose (720691) <giles.robertson@westminster.org.uk> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:30AM (#17646718) Homepage
    And they can't set up a redirect to the new hosting location?
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Exercise your right view ads. thinkoutside.org [thinkoutside.org]

      There, I fixed that for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      Wouldn't they then be serving 4 million redirects per day? The point is that they need to eventually break it to make people stop relying on that path.
    • Re:Redirect (Score:4, Funny)

      by AndroidCat (229562) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:45AM (#17646984) Homepage

      HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
      Content-Type: text/html
      Location: http://127.0.0.1/
    • Re:Redirect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by werewolf1031 (869837) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:45AM (#17646986)
      And they can't set up a redirect to the new hosting location?
      What in the world would be the point? That would merely duplicate the problem to a different location. As was clearly stated in the article by Mr. Finke, four-million hits every day is a crapload of bandwidth wasted re-downloading a file that will never change. The RSS 0.91 spec is finished, complete, and yes, for all intents and purposes, written in stone. Stop looking at it every damned day. It will not change. Ever. It's truly stupid for client-side software to be accessing it over the Internet to read its forever-static contents. That's like checking the writings of a dead poet every day to see if anything's changed.

      And any dev who codes his app to check a file like this every day instead of caching it client-side should be smacked oh-my-god-so-frickin-hard.
      • Re:Redirect (Score:5, Funny)

        by AndroidCat (229562) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:59AM (#17647172) Homepage
        And any dev who codes his app to check a file like this...
        They might not even know that they're doing it if they're using Microsoft's Swiss Army Chainsaw XMLHTTP COM object and set the flags wrong.
        • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

          by Frosty Piss (770223)
          They might not even know that they're doing it if they're using Microsoft's Swiss Army Chainsaw XMLHTTP COM object and set the flags wrong.

          And naturally that's Microsofts fault? Not the developer who doesn't know anything about their tool?

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by BobNET (119675)
            And naturally that's Microsofts fault? Not the developer who doesn't know anything about their tool?

            I wouldn't worry about it, many developers have firsthand experience with their tools...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by AndroidCat (229562)
            I didn't say that it was Microsoft's fault. It's just that it's a powerful tool with thousands of uses that's simple (on the surface) to use, but it pays to read the fine print carefully because many things aren't obvious. (/me remembers wasting time wondering why my XPath queries weren't working...)
      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        bandwidth wasted re-downloading a file that will never change. The RSS 0.91 spec is finished, complete, and yes, for all intents and purposes, written in stone
        Maybe they're using the pre-release one, waiting for version 1.0 to be released :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by naChoZ (61273)

        And any dev who codes his app to check a file like this every day instead of caching it client-side should be smacked oh-my-god-so-frickin-hard.

        Ironic because Netscape is guilty of this poor practive themselves. I have an old sun u2 box that I recently revived. I had a copy of netscape messaging server/netscape enterprise server on it (used by the isp where I worked at the time). I wanted to archive some old mail off of it before I wiped the drive. I couldn't start it up because there were so many files containing references to http://developer.netscape.com/products/servers/ent erprise/dtds/nes-webapps_6_1.dtd [netscape.com] which of course doesn't even e

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by doom (14564)

        It's truly stupid for client-side software to be accessing it over the Internet to read its forever-static contents.

        Hey, you're challenging one of the cherished principles on which the web was based.

        The next thing you know, you're going to be talking about the separation of document id from location.

    • URIs (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is the perfect reason to use URIs hosted on p2p, rather than individual sites. It's going to be more and more of an issue, as RDF takes off.
      • Re:URIs (Score:5, Informative)

        by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:27PM (#17650624) Homepage
        No. This is the perfect example of why a URI is not necessarily supposed to be treated as a URL. http://my.netscape.com/publish/formats/rss-0.91.dt d is just a unique identifier for the RSS DTD. It used to also be hosted there as a convenience, but your software isn't supposed to rely on that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Albanach (527650)
      To be fair, the article points out that they have already put in place a redirect.

      They point out that it might not be entirely sensible for millions of newsreaders to rely upon downloading a static file from the web each time they open a feed. Most newsreaders (like the one built into Firefox use a local cached copy.

      They restored the file so these newsreaders will continue to work for a period long enough that they can be altered to use a local copy.

      Whether it's reasonable or not for them to remove the
    • Sending Expires and Cache-Control headers [slashdot.org] that say "Don't bother retrying for 3 years" might help mitigate some of the bandwidth waste.

      That said, he's got a point that the feed readers should work if the DTD isn't retrievable -- but deliberately removing it looks like a great way to say "Netscape isn't reliable."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:32AM (#17646770)
    Developers who made the mistake to use that external resource in their code most likely don't have the brain resources to adapt until July.

    (This is not a troll. Resignation and bitterness, maybe. But not a troll.)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:39AM (#17646900)
      That is kind of like declaring PI to be a volatile double variable, in case it changes in real time...
      • by shani (1674)
        In Greg Bear's book Eon, one of the ideas is building with geometry. A mathematician investigating one such structure asked some engineers to build a pi-meter to use when she was exploring. I wondered what such a thing could mean, and indeed how one would build such a device...
        • by nuzak (959558)
          The curvature of space varies along The Way, which affects the value of Pi.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          pi = any circle's circumference / diameter. At least on a Euclidean plane, anyway. It's a bit incorrect to think that the value of pi varies, as it's defined in a particular type of geometry. There are also purely mathematical ways to define the value of pi, independent of geometry. Still, the idea of measuring space to get the value of "pi" is a valid way to think about measuring the curvature of space.

          Now, let's say space is curved, like a sphere. (Like, oh, the one we live on.) If you draw a circle,
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by alienmole (15522)

            You could also do the same thing with a piece of string and a ruler, but it wouldn't be convenient enough to call it a "pi meter".

            Yeah, but if you attached the string to a sleeping cat's tail, then when the value of pi changes it would pull the cat's tail and the cat would jump, hitting the lever above its head, which would release a ball which would roll down a spiral ramp into a container of water balanced on a thin beam, so that when the ball sinks to the bottom of the container it would tip it over o

        • by T-Ranger (10520)
          It would be trivial to build a ruler that is exactly pi. The problem would be that if you do so, you would break all the other rulers out there.
    • then they can use that time to find a new job?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:34AM (#17646806)
    Developers should take the opportunity to move to Atom. In the mean time we could use something as simple as round-robin DNS to share the load or have Mozilla, Google or the internet archive host it. It's a historical document and should reside at a permanent URI.
    • Round-robin'ing the load does not eliminate the wasted bandwidth: that costs someone money. Even if you Akamai'ize it, someone has to pay hte bills for it.
  • CmdrTaco (Score:5, Funny)

    by MagicM (85041) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:40AM (#17646906)
    Netscape Restores RSS DTD, Until July - from the that's-kinda-lame dept.
    Two Stargate SG1 Films Announced - from the good-for-them dept.
    Linux: x86 Linux Flash Player 9 is Final - from the i-still-hate-flash dept.

    Looks like somebody is having a case of the mondays.

    (On Wednesday.)
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thansal (999464) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:40AM (#17646910)
    I admit, I am not familiar enough with RSS. However this is a 2.3KB file that is not supposed to change. Why would developers NOT hardcode it into their RSS tools?
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:51AM (#17647046) Journal
      No one ever writes a new XML (and most other Web2.0) application from the scratch. They all take an app they are familiar with and modify it to do new things. And some of the initial boot-strap processes are never looked into. If it works, dont mess with it attitude is pervasive. So someone long ago may be in a galaxy far away wrote an application that replicated and mutated by developers and others took it and did more mutations and it propagated. One side effect of this and similar cut&paste code development tactics is that bugs, security holes, inefficient algorithms, brain dead implementations also propagate.

      Richard Dawkins asks this very fundamental question, why reproduce (sexually or asexually) using seeds and embryos? Why not propagate by cuttings and cloning? It happens in nature. Many fern like plants do it. Bananas have been reproducing by new shoots. Then he discusses how harmful mutations too propagage and how going back to the basics and recreating the embryo selects the beneficial mutations and puts a check on deletrious mutations. Books The Selfish Gene, Climbing the Mount Improbable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vreejack (68778)
        That was insightful (hint to mods).

        Now we need software that can breed sexually.

        Or, more realistically, software that has a finer granularity and greater modularity so that the piece of ancient code that does this can be easily identified and swapped out, without needing to be understood by developers.
         
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Zak3056 (69287)
          Now we need software that can breed sexually.

          Nahh, the risk of virus transmission is too high...

      • Yes, but Richard Dawkins is married to a hottie from Dr Who. [bbc.co.uk] Why should he ever have to use "sex" and "why?" in the same sentence?

        /sadfanboy
      • by operagost (62405)

        Richard Dawkins asks this very fundamental question, why reproduce (sexually or asexually) using seeds and embryos? Why not propagate by cuttings and cloning?
        Number one, nature is a horrible analogy to use in comparison with software; two, Darwin adequately answered this question and I think Dawkins should know the answer; three, every piece of software is not simply a rehashing of old code-- tons of it is brand new.
        • by araemo (603185)
          Perhaps it should be said that Dawkins begs the question... I think his book is a x00 page answer to said question. (Granted, I haven't read that book, but I know Dawkins' reputation. ;P)
        • All analogies are a little flawed so this one par for the course. Yes, Darwin answered it broadly, Dawkings gets into the details. He explains it well.

          Imagine a plant with many branches and one branch does better than others and it grows bigger. It eventually touches the ground, sprouts roots and crowds out the mother plant and siblings and continues to grow. And some of its branches mutate, adapt better and the cycle repeats. This is not a far out scenario. It is posible. Not only possible it happened.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:58AM (#17647138) Homepage

      Developers use off the shelf XML parsers, which generally take care of validation for you. Netscape created this problem themselves when they stated in the spec for RSS 0.91 that well-formedness was not enough, RSS 0.91 feeds should be validated against the DTD. They then specified that document authors must use a PUBLIC doctype specifier, so the option of using a SYSTEM one (where the DTD is looked up in a local catalog) is not an option.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        PUBLIC doctypes simply give the URI of the DTD, and are exptected to always resolve to the same content. But there's no requirement that you use the default resolver.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rholliday (754515)
      I'm also not an expert, but from what I know about DTDs they are supposed to be referenced when the content should validate against them. For example:

      <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
      "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

      This is at the top of every Slashdot page. Should IE or FF break if the W3 were to remove that file? Certainly not. But should it be loaded and validated if possible? I believe so.

      If any XML or RSS gurus want to correct me on thi

    • Re:mirror ;) (Score:5, Informative)

      by geoffspear (692508) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:52AM (#17647054) Homepage
      Great, the entire internet community can rely on one random person's server instead of on one really big corporation's server. That should fix things.
      • I'm not entirely joe-random user (i say jokingly yet seriously - i registered nether.net before aol registered aol.com), but what i'll say is that it's useful to have copies of these files around for all sorts of reasons, either historical or otherwise. Folks are welcome to add my host in as one in their list of places to find this. I've survived slashdottings in the past before with not a lot of effort (as my pages are primarily static, no ads), and hosted/mirrored large content before without trouble an
        • by CokeBear (16811) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:26PM (#17647572) Journal
          i registered nether.net before aol registered aol.com

          But you waited until (UID 633928) to register on Slashdot?

          Newbie.

          • by MyHair (589485)
            by CokeBear (16811):
            i registered nether.net before aol registered aol.com

            But you waited until (UID 633928) to register on Slashdot?

            Newbie.


            Yeah. uhuhuhuh. What a noob. Heh. uhuhuh.

            ;)

          • by Tim Browse (9263)
            Oi! You kids! Get off my lawn!
            • by Chacham (981)
              *Yawn*
              • by zztzed (279)
                Yawn indeed.
                • by Chacham (981)
                  I knew it was only a amtter of time.

                  Then again, how much time do you think actually passed between your registration and mine?
              • Wow, impressive.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by RabidMonkey (30447)
            "newbie"?

            thats so oldschool now, it's noob or newb now

            y'old fart.
  • Let's be Evil (Score:2, Interesting)

    .. and I thought it was only Microsoft and Google that tried to "break the web" on purpose ....
  • by KrisWithAK (32865) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:01PM (#17647202)
    As I replied for the previous Netscape RSS DTD article http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=216818&cid=176 03480 [slashdot.org], caching DTDs from the network is not the answer if there is the possibility they will not be there in the future:

    The proper thing to do is for your application to use an XML catalog for resolving entities/URIs and bundle the DTD files with the application. There is a good article at http://xml.apache.org/commons/components/resolver/ resolver-article.html [apache.org] that helped me out. In addition, if you are using Eclipse with the web tools platform, you can customize the catalog so it resolves DTDs and entities locally. See http://wiki.eclipse.org/index.php/Using_the_XML_Ca talog [eclipse.org].
  • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:03PM (#17647226)

    (I tried posting this as a reply to the blog posting, but I'm not getting the confirmation email, so I'll post it here)

    From a purely technical standpoint, I agree with your assertion that, for well-baked files like RSS DTDs, clients should not be relying on a file hosted by an arbitrary service.

    That being said, please understand that the emotional message you're sending is: "Don't rely on Netscape".

    Why?

    Back when RSS was first starting out, Netscape's documentation said to use Netscape URLs for the RSS DTDs. Witness this page [archive.org], published by Netscape, from late 2000:

    Now, a shade over six years later, Netscape is saying "Oh, yeah, what we told you to do? Never mind. We're not supporting it any more."

    If Netscape/AOL was shutting its doors, that'd be one thing. If the service in question was obviously onerous, that too would be understandable. Or, if Netscape told people "For the love of all that is holy, don't use our URLs for your DTD needs!" from the get-go (based on that document, you didn't), any such reliance would be our own fault.

    But, because AOL does not want to serve up two static files, each of which is smaller than the "Netscape Reports" graphic on the netscape.com home page, Netscape is abandoning a service they told people to use.

    So what are we to think about Netscape's current services and their long-term usability?

    • by evilviper (135110)
      But, because AOL does not want to serve up two static files, each of which is smaller than the "Netscape Reports" graphic on the netscape.com home page, Netscape is abandoning a service they told people to use.

      They told people to use SIX YEARS AGO. I'd say they kept their promise pretty damn well. That's an eternity in internet terms.

      Who else would you expect to have provided such a free service, longer?

  • dumb (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "should feed readers be relying on the availability of a static document on a third-party Web server (and thus a connection to the Internet)?"

    Yeah, feed readers don't need the internet at all! What WERE you guys thinking?
  • I never understood why web pages need references to these external things (or do they?). Why embed into a page a pointer to a document that you don't have direct control over? My own dumb pages do this as well since I switched from plain HTML to using CSS and SVG, but I don't have the time to figure out why it's in there or if it's needed. I just pasted it in like the examples I found. Now if I thought my web page was really important, I'd look into this a bit more...
    • Why embed into a page a pointer to a document that you don't have direct control over?
      because the interweb works because of external links :P
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You need to put a certain DTD URI into your documents because they essentially act like "magic cookie" values in binary file formats. It's the only way to tell if you're supposed to treat a document as HTML 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.01, XHTML, HTML strict, HTML transitional, whatever. That information isn't encoded in the DTD, so there's no way to identify a file format simply by pointing at a random location with the identical DTD.

      The point of the URI is to act as an opaque identifier for a particular file format
  • You have five months to update your apps to use RSS DTD version 0.92!
    • Seriously though,
      Isn't 0.91 dead anyway?

      Why not get on the 2.0 bandwagon?
      Is there still value in 0.91?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It seems to me that having the ability to track the src and dest address of every website viewed (nearly) would be a huge financial gain to companies willing to sell that information. Netscape (read AOL) never really struck me as a "feel good, do good" company and I am surprised that they would not try to profit off of this. I distinctly remember thinking this as motive back when they declared everyone must use their DTD in the first place.
  • by kabdib (81955) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @01:09PM (#17648386) Homepage
    This is why whenever I hear the words "architecture" and "web" in the same sentence that I snicker. Unpolite, but OMFG who designed this junk?

    Oh, right. Nobody, really. It's amazing it works at all (... and sometimes it doesn't!)

    Djikstra's quip, "If programmers build houses they way they built programs, the first woodpecker to come along would topple civilization" was and remains insightful.
  • The web needs some scheme for content based addressing. Like the urn:sha1 scheme used in gnutella. This (and some sort of reasonable caching scheme) would do a lot to alleviate problems like this. It could also help a lot with the Slashdot effect.

  • With my very limited understanding of the W3C and such, the the netscape blog post seems very anti-W3C ... as Daniel Glazman commented on the blog post

    "cool URIs never change". This sentence has been on W3C's site for ages, constantly repeated by W3C staff in Web conferences.

    However, it's not like the author of the post didn't have valid reasoning. That IS a lot of bandwidth, why should netscape be made to foot the bill when they don't get anything in return? No one sees any of their pretty ads when the users' machines just fetch the DTD -- netscape gets nothing off of hosting it ... beyond the ability to feel good about them

  • Ever since they took DevEdge offline without warning, I've been weary to rely on them as a resource. This is just another step toward insignificance.
  • Don't get it from archive.org. The Internet Archive isn't really set up to have a huge number of quick retrievals of the same tiny item. There's no front-end cache farm, and response will be slow. (This was a problem after they started archiving Greatful Dead fan recordings. The Deadheads, many of whom did too many drugs in the 1960s, would stream the same audio, over and over and over. The music archive had to be moved to a completely different system.)

    Try to get this hosted by "w3c.org", which hos

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