Today Tim Bray reported that Atom is done. This is good news for the Web, and this is an important opportunity for ECM vendors.
I appreciate it when those involved in a standard take the time to share a concise vision for why the standard matters. According to Tim Bray, Atom’s raison d’être is “Publish” Everywhere. (Or, perhaps, publish-and-edit everywhere, reading last night’s IETF announcement.)
Others have already commented on the potentially powerful relationship between REST and ECM. Given APP’s RESTful approach and it’s focus on publishing and editing web resources (e.g. documents, multimedia, metadata), one should expect to see Atom (format and protocol) take hold across the ECM ecosystem.
It would be helpful to see someone like Sam Ruby, who directly participated in both the WebDAV and Atom working groups, would please comment on why WebDAV failed where Atom is seen to succeed. After all, the purpose of WebDAV–Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning–sounds very similar to Atom‘s present purpose. Both protocols rely on HTTP. Etc. Etc. Tim’s candid reply to a relevant IETF working group thread–“I’ve never really studied DAV”–is also unfortunate.
If, indeed, he’s in the majority, then how can a previous WebDAV and potential Atom standard adopter truly know when Atom-WebDAV divergence is intentional and appropriate, and not just accidental or lazy? Those who invested time in adding “checkin” and “checkout” to their authoring software on behalf of their WebDAV embrace, may be reluctant to add shiny new “publish button” supporting Atom, unless it’s clear how history won’t repeat itself (or rhyme, as Mark Twain would instead suggest).
Aside: In general, I find it difficult to talk with others about a standard that has more than one focus (e.g. SAML – (just another) token format or “the universal solvent of identity information,” Atom – feed format or publishing protocol, etc.). Sounds like Tim has similar concerns with the vague nature of “Atom” (without further qualification). Since “APP” is becoming a fairly common acronym for Atom Publishing Protocol, how about “AFF” for “Atom Feed Format (i.e. RFC 4287)? This could leave “Atom” for all-inclusive conversations (i.e. both APP and AFF).