Re: [blogite] PingBack description files

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From: Simon Willison (
Date: Sat Sep 07 2002 - 21:18:03 BST

At 20:32 07/09/2002 +0100, Aquarion wrote:
>This is the last time I'm going to post about this, because if you don't
>get that I don't think this is a good idea by now, I've got no hope, and
>might as well give up anyway.

Please keep posting about this (and other) issues - the more discussion and
viewpoints we get on this kind of thing the better.

>The interface you've just described is to tell a given client how to
>ping back to my blog. In order to do this, the client side has to
>impliment four *differant* methods of how to ping people.

You misunderstand - the whole idea of the description file is to give
clients choice, not force them in to doing more work. They don't have to
implement four different methods, they just have to be able to understand
the part of the file that describes the interface for the methods (or
method, there's no reason for a client to implement more than one) that
they are capable of carrying out.

As an example, I've been trying to write a bookmarklet at the moment which
allows you to drag-select a blog entry you have just written and pingback
all the links in the selection with one click of the mouse. The bookmarklet
opens all of the links in your selection in invisible iFrames, checks them
all for <link> tags, loads in the XML document for each one, checks through
/that/ for a <interface type="get"> bit and uses the information in there
to send a pingback via the query string method. Et voila! A bookmarklet
client for anyone using a DOM compatible browser.

>This is four
>times more work than needs to be done. The way it *should* be done is to
>pick one standard and stick with it (What's the point of a GET
>mechanism? Every language capable of being a blog server is also capable
>of processing text in some form, and thus XML. Most languages (excluding
>things like COBAL and Intercal) have some sort of XML translator.)

The point is that XML-RPC is actually a pretty tricky standard to
implement. It's a great standard and I can see if being the most popular
TrackBack method, but the query string method is much easier for
programmersto implement (especially non-XML geeks ;) ). Two cases in point
- the bookmarklet I describe above could not be done if it had to make
XML-RPC requests (at least not without a server side proxy, see ) and the comment on my blog here where
someone states that they found TrackBack a breeze to implement as it can be
pinged via a URL (can't find the link but it's in there somewhere).

At the end of the day, the more people can use pingback the more useful it
will be to the people that have it implemented. We've got a great
opportunity here to build a spec that could end up used all over the
blogging community (and even beyond), but if we limit it to just XML-RPC it
will end up restricted to a relatively small audience.

Remember, we're in the "bounce ideas about wildly and see what sticks"
stage at the moment. The more ideas we bounce the higher the chance of
something really good jumping out at us :)



Web Developer,
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