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Are you also fed up with the continuing war between RSS 0.9* and 1.0 and 2.0 and whatever else they invent today?

Me too.

So today I invented the Epistula Syndication Format. ESF. It isn’t XML. It isn’t RDF. It’s just data. Quick, reliable, and I’m never going to change the spec in such a way as to break the previous version. Ever. Promise. It’s staying that way. Even Shelly could use it 🙂

ESF, the Epistula Syndication Format, is a really simple format for publishing links to the last few items on any given topic, on any given website. The format is as follows:

Mime Type

ESF should be served as text/plain


Every line starting with a “#” is a comment.


From the start of the file (excluding comments) begins the meta data, in the format field, tab, data. Valid fields are:


the title of the feed/site


a contact address for the site or the feed, must be in the form “email_address (Name)


The home page of the feed’s data.

The end of the data is signified by a newline charecter.

All metadata is optional. Two newlines in sucession designate the end of the metadata, then the content begins.

Content is of the form “date(tab)title(tab)link(newline)”. End of file marks the end of content, date is in Unix timestamp (seconds since the epoch) format. Clarification: Links work in the same way as browser-links do. If you define a scheme (http://) they are absolute, otherwise relative)

Example Feed:

(Example feeds can be found at http://www.aquarionics.com/meta/, all the feeds ending in .esf are ESF feeds :-))

#Aquarionics Newsfeed, in Episula Syndication Feed format (ESF)
title	Aquarionics
contact	aquarion@aquarionics.com (Aquarion)
link	http://www.aquarionics.com/

1032882396	Pong	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=739
1032649452	Death. 	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=731
1032614009	Which Blogging Tool?	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=729
1032329703	Interesting Weblogs	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=722
1032267337	Chocolate	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=720
1032258909	Do spiders make chutney?	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=719
1032199993	Memeping	http://www.aquarionics.com/index.php?id=716

No readers yet exist. As they do, and I’m told about them, they will be listed here.

Update as of 2002-09-26:
Freaky responce, I have to say. Part of which is Jonathon Delacour creating an icon for it for it. See http://weblog.delacour.net/archives/000712.html

More updates: Now is there a Perl ESF Module. MT still doesn’t support it, though 🙂

And it goes on. Kevin released the Epoch mod for Movable Type which allows MT users to make proper ESF feeds, the reader R3R is designed with ESF in mind (And does what my own RSS reader does not, and supports it. This is kind of strange, but never mind)

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