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IETF Atom Publishing Format and Protocol Working Group Proposed

Atom Publishing Format and Protocol (atompub)

Date:      Wed, 05 May 2004 10:27:29 -0400
From:      The IESG <>
To:        IETF-Announce
Subject:   WG Review: Atom Publishing Format and Protocol (atompub)

A new IETF working group has been proposed in the Applications Area. The IESG has not made any determination as yet. The following description was submitted, and is provided for informational purposes only. Please send your comments to the IESG mailing list ( by May 12th.

Atom Publishing Format and Protocol (atompub)

Current Status: Proposed Working Group

Description of Working Group

Atom defines a feed format for representing and a protocol for editing Web resources such as Weblogs, online journals, Wikis, and similar content. The feed format enables syndication; that is, provision of a channel of information by representing multiple resources in a single document. The editing protocol enables agents to interact with resources by nominating a way of using existing Web standards in a pattern.

Atom consists of:

  • A conceptual model of a resource
  • A concrete syntax for this model
  • A syndication and archiving format (the Atom feed format) using this syntax
  • An editing protocol using this syntax

The format must be able to represent:

  • a resource that is a Weblog entry or article (e.g., it has an author, date, identifier, and content)
  • a feed or channel of entries, with or without enclosed content
  • a complete archive of all entries in a feed
  • existing well-formed XML (especially XHTML) content
  • additional information in an user-extensible manner

The editing protocol must enable:

  • creating, editing, and deleting feed entries
  • multiple authors for a feed
  • multiple subjects or categories in a feed
  • user authentication
  • adding, editing, and deleting users
  • setting and getting user preferences
  • creating, getting and setting related resources such as comments, templates, etc.

The working group will use experience gained with RSS (variably used as a name by itself and as an acronym for "RDF Site Summary", "Rich Site Summary", or "Really Simple Syndication") as the basis for a standards-track document specifying the model, syntax, and feed format. The feed format and HTTP will be used as the basis of work on a standards-track document specifying the editing protocol. The goal for the working group is to produce a single feed format and a single editing protocol; the working group will only consider additional formats or additional protocols if those charter changes are approved by the IESG.

The working group will also take steps to ensure interoperability, by:

  • unambiguously identifying required elements in formats
  • clearly nominating conformance levels for different types of software
  • providing clear extensibility mechanisms and constraints upon them

The Atom protocol will be designed to provide security services for updating and accessing dynamic online resources. The working group will consider current known issues with requirements for remote access, along with the fact that many such resources are constrained by providers who provide the resource owners with little configuration control.

The working group's primary focus will be on delivering an interoperable format and corresponding protocol; it is expected that all but the most basic, generic metadata and functions will be accommodated through extensions, rather than in the core documents.

Extension development is not included in this charter. The working group will consider the need to either close or to modify the charter and document extensions once the core document set has been approved by the IESG.


Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See also "Atom as the New XML-Based Web Publishing and Syndication Format." See additional references in the news story: "IESG Announces Proposal for IETF Atom Publishing Format and Protocol Working Group."

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