Product catalogs as RSS feeds?

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I'm sure this has [and is] being done, and I certainly don't need this
info, but I was curious..

Has anyone used RSS for product catalogs, if so, how do they handle the
kinds of things specific to catalogs? Things like 'price' 'sku' and
'currency' are the obvious ones. Is there a "standard" extension for
this purpose that is in common use? From what I've seen, most places
just cram the price into the actual description, leaving parsers
to try and pluck it out.

-- Custom web programming
guhzo_42@lnubb.pbz (rot13)                User Management Solutions

Re: Product catalogs as RSS feeds?

On Fri, 11 Nov 2005 00:49:11 GMT, wrote:

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What's a "feed" in this context ?  Who's the audience ?

A catalogue is large. Now you certainly can use RSS for this, but
putting the whole catalogue through it is going to surprise those feed
consumers who are expecting "about 15" items as a maximum.  Is your
problem here to find a technology that helps your extranet catalogue
distribution task, or is it to embed parts of your catalogue into
something that's more like a classic "newsfeed" ?  The use-case here
will influence the best design choice.

To use RSS for a catalogue, use RSS 1.0.  The RDF processing model is
ideal for this and the rest is a simple matter of data modelling your
catalogue structure as a set of RDF properties. You might write an XML
Schema or even some OWL to describe this. You might find RDF tools (like
Jena) more useful than XSLT.

To distribute catalogue snippets through RSS, then you have to look very
carefully at your consumers and how dedicated they are to processing
your catalogue-specific RSS.  If they're going to throw it into a
generic embedded-HTML renderer and stick it on a web page, then there is
_no_ point in doing anything clever - it will simply disappear. You may
well deliver your beautifully catalogue data as nothing more than
entity-encoded HTML, hopefully with some sensible embedded markup
through <span class="price" > etc.  It's aso good practice even with RSS
1.0 to duplicate content - one set of properties describes the catalogue
data, the HTML content element duplicates this in a more-easily rendered
version. You could well have two distinct user communites out there: one
which wants the structured data, one which only wants an easy path to a
simple human-readable rendering.  Build one feed for both, even if
there's duplicated data in it - it's still better than multiple feed

RSS 2.0 is crap, particularly for the sort of extensibility you need
here. If you're not using RSS 1.0, use Atom instead. Atom's XHTML
content model for <atom:content> is useful.

Information wants to be free.
Data fancies being tied up and spanked by Troi.

Re: Product catalogs as RSS feeds?

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The use case doesn't actually exist, I was just thinking about how many
catalogs there are floating around and all these price comparison/affiliate
type networks and ...

NO simple, straight-forward XML standard that fits the bill, yet I'm sure this
has been done a thousand times by a thousand vendors each one with different
data... (I once worked at a company once that created _TWO_ standards for XML
catalogs, standards that, to the best of my knowledge were never actually used
anywhere one was simple and one was complex.)

A basic, no-frills catalog with most of the features already found in RSS
would probably fit the bill.

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The model would be to find any existing situations that are bouncing catalogs
around. For example, suppose you had an ecommerce platform, it needs a catalog,
sure would be nice if a catalog program out there, some place, exported the
data in a fairly well recognized format so that various ecommerce packages
had an easier time of importing it.

Froogle would be a good candidate for this kind of thing, as would pretty
much any catalog / shopping cart system.

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RSS just popped into my head because it seems to be the most popular
XML dialog in existance.

Wouldn't have to be RSS, just XML of some sort, XML that is already
in use and is fairly simple. (simple being the key, if it's not simple,
it might as well be anything since no one would use it anyway)

-- Custom web programming
guhzo_42@lnubb.pbz (rot13)                User Management Solutions

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