Difference Between RSS and Atom (With Table)

A web feed is used for getting the update frequently without visiting separate websites. It is useful to the publishers as well as it offers help in automating the syndication process. The most famous and iced web feeds are RSS and Atom. Both of them are used for the same purpose, to gets information about updates or recent changes in websites without visiting them. Due to their same use, both of them are confused the most. It is important to differentiate or knows about them individually to decide which is more suitable for which purpose separately. Following are some differences along with the information about both of them to remove the confusion between both webs feeds.

RSS vs Atom

The difference between RSS and Atom is that both of them have different content models. RSS has fewer payloads, while there are several types of payloads in Atom. When it comes to distinguishing between partial and excerpts, both of them differ as RSS does not do distinguish partial with excerpts while atoms do distinguish between partial from excerpts. There is also a standard feature that is absent in RSS but presents in Atom. This feature is Autodiscovery. It is not a standard feature in RSS. Both of them have aggregating and extracting processes, but the difference in the process being complicated or easier. In RSS, it is more complicated, while in the case of Atom, it is comparatively easier. Except for these differences, they also differ in other terms, which are mentioned below.

Real Simple Syndication provides the updates of websites or web pages in a more standardized way. It was developed by RSS advisory board, and RSS 2.0 is the latest version of it, which is present as either an escaped HTML or plain text content model. It was released in 15 marches 1999. It shows the date of either of last updating or creation date. It does not offer autodiscovery as a standardized feature.

Atom is pair of related Web Standards that allows checking the latest updates and changes in the websites and webpages. It has several types of payloads, including escaped HTML and plain text. It shows the date of its last update date in date format. The process of aggregating and extracting is quite easier in this. It also offers autodiscovery as a standardized feature along which is also distinguishing partial from excerpts.

Comparison Table Between RSS and Atom

Parameters of ComparisonRSSAtom
Content modelEither escaped HTML or plain text.Several types of payload
Date formatsWhen feed was last time updated and created of it.When it was last updated.
Aggregating  ComplicatedEasier
Auto-discoveryNot a standardized featureStandardized feature
Partial & Excerpts’ DifferenceDoes not distinguishDistinguish

What is RSS?

Following are the pros and cons of RSS that should be taken into consideration before choosing it:

PROS:

  • Saves Time: it can save time, as a user can scan the feed without visiting websites separately. Users can get additional information by just clicking on any items. 
  • Spam Free: it is free of any kind of spam. Users can get the information they are seeking without getting into any spam.
  • Easy Unsubscribing: unsubscribing is as easy as subscribing. Therefore if any information is not required by the user, he can unsubscribe it from the feeds easily and will not see it again.
  • Expands audience: this is one of the major benefits of RSS as it is designed mainly for syndication, which leads to the expanding of the audience by increasing the reach of the business.
  • Increase Productivity: it increases productivity as information can be accessed with one click and saving time.

CONS:

  • Not Widely Opted: it is not used widely. It may be due to the reason for the increase in competition. There are other web feeds that offer similar and more features.
  • Can be Copied: it is not safe from copying of content. It can be coped with easily without your permission.
  • Tracking is Difficult: it is very difficult to track the information about people who have subscribed to it and reading the information in the feeds.

What is Atom?

It is more recent as compared to RSS, and this is also one of the reasons behind its usage as an alternative to RSS. It offers more advanced and extra features such as autodiscovery and contains more types of payloads than RSS. It was introduced in June 2003, and the main reason behind its introduction was to overcome all the limitations of the latest version of Real Simple Syndication – RSS. It also allows the extension to its namespaces which is not allowed in RSS. It can use all the standard web encryption techniques of RSS along with XML Encryption and XML Digital Signature.

There is no limitation such as backward compatibility and restriction on ongoing innovation in this. Readers are used for reading the work feed as in RSS. It is based on the new IEFT standard that was launched in 2005. The protocol used for creating and updating web resources is Atom Publishing Protocol which HTTP based. 

Main Differences Between RSS and Atom

  1. Both of them have different types of payloads. RSS 2.0 can only have two types of payloads it is either escaped HTML or plain texts, whereas, in comparison to it, the atom has many types of payloads such as escaped HTLM, plain text, XML, XHTML, Base64-encoded binary, etc.
  2. Both RSS and atoms show the date stamps, but the difference is that both of them show dates of the different events in it. When it comes to RSS, it can show dates of two events, creation date, and date when it was last updated, while atoms show the date of only one event, that is when it was last updated.
  3. RSS, with the help of its mechanism of vocabularies, can also indicate the human language for its feed, whereas standard XML of lang attribute is used by the atom along with the characters that lie outside the character set of US ASCII.
  4. Vocabulary elements of RSS cannot be used in other XML vocabularies, whereas vocabulary elements of atoms can be used in other XML vocabularies as atoms allow the outside usage of elements.
  5. In terms of publishing protocols, RSS has two publishing protocols, whereas atom has only one standardized protocol. Two publishing protocols of RSS are Blogger protocol and MetaWeblog.
  6. Lastly, they also differ when it comes to the requirement of content on the feed. RSS being less restrictive or loose in nature, does not require large or much data while the atom is opposite of it in this case and is more restrictive hence requires more data.

Conclusion

Therefore, with all the above data, it will be easier for a user to decide which is better in respective terms. Web feeds offers several benefits, it makes it easier to know the recent changes (without manually checking the sites), allows the consolidating of updates in a single place with the help of feed readers, helpful in automation of syndication process, etc. overall it saves time and energy of the user and publisher as well. Both Atom and RSS are similar in function except few features and benefits that are not available in RSS but are in Atom. This may be due to the reason, RSS was founded earlier than Atom. Therefore, Atom has more features as compared to RSS.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=xuPaOWcryZAC&oi=fnd&pg=PT9&dq=RSS+and+Atom&ots=rLNKBa-mPS&sig=HIxQKO08Um1a0jyQIlMkpxEw7hg
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=IGHQpIQJ2YUC&oi=fnd&pg=PR25&dq=RSS+and+Atom&ots=jxcpGNG0VS&sig=BgYEgcur-EvM8_eXIhUQsdvpKk8
  3. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1463164/
  4. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4302-0139-7_14
  5. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/2481492.2481523
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