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8. Parsing and Using Feeds > 8.1. Important Issues

Important Issues

This is where it starts to get really messy. We have discussed the production of three standards in this book, but there are hundreds of variations in the wild. This chaos has arisen because of a combination of the confusion of standards development, common misunderstandings about what constitutes valid XML, and a general agreement among the developers of feed-reading applications that they would parse invalid feeds at all costs. Indeed, it is because of these clashing versions of the RSS family that the Atom project was started in the first place.

When it comes to parsing any given feed, therefore, you need to take one specific fact into account: the feed is probably invalid. This might seem harsh, but you have to remember that the RSS community went through a long period when the specifications were so loosely defined that it was hard to pin down exactly what was and wasn’t valid. These feeds, and the systems that produce them, have not been revisited. Standards compliance aside, it’s thought that at least 10% of feeds aren’t even valid XML. This causes a lot of problems in itself.


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