Permanent link to archive for 12/21/04. Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Multiple enclosures on RSS items?

Disclaimer: These are my thoughts, not spec text.

This question comes up from time to time, and I've resisted answering it directly, thinking that anyone who really read the spec would come to the conclusion that RSS allows zero or one enclosures per item, and no more. The same is true for all other sub-elements of item, except category, where multiple elements are explicitly allowed. The spec refers to "the enclosure" in the singular. Regardless, some people persist in thinking that you may have more than one enclosure per item.

Okay, let's play it out. So if I have more than one enclosure per item, how do I specify the publication date for each enclosure? How do I specify the title, author, a link to comments, a description perhaps, or a guid? The people who want multiple enclosures suggest schemes that are so complicated that they're reduced to hand-waving before they get to the spec, which I would love to read, if it could be written. Some times some things are just too hard to do. This is one of them.

And there's a reason why it's too hard. Because you're throwing out the value of RSS and then trying to figure out how to bring it back. There's no need for items any more, so you might as well get rid of them. At the top level of channel would be a series of enclosures, and then underneath each enclosure, all the meta-data. Voila, problem solved. Only what have you actually solved? You've just re-created RSS, but instead of calling the main elements "item" we now call them "enclosure".

Sometimes linear thinking leads you to a dead-end, and this is one of those times, imho. You end up in a torus, there's no wall that says "you may go no further" but somehow you keep going in circles, chasing your tail, re-inventing RSS, when there's absolutely no need to.

So people ask how will we fit show notes into RSS? Maybe we won't. When you get into show notes, think outlines, and think about linking MP3s into outline structures. I think this has more potential. I could be wrong of course (not joking).

# Posted by Dave Winer on 12/21/04; 1:09:58 PM - --

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