Is there a syndication format for media?

At work, we’re trying to make our media firehose available to other developers.  One thought is to publish a syndication feed through Pubsubhubbub.  I can easily do that, but I don’t know which format to use.

Pubsubhubbub was originally designed to support the Atom Syndication Format.  But there’s no widely accepted standard for publishing media information with Atom.  It looks like most sites that publish media use RSS 2.0 and the Media RSS extensions.

I touched on the development of syndication formats in a 2004 blog entry.  Atom “won” by becoming a standard, but RSS (mostly RSS 2.0) is so prevalent that it’s unlikely to be pushed out any time soon.

The developers of Pubsubhubbub included support for RSS in July of last year, and the latest specification (0.3) includes support.  This is both good and bad:  good because now all those sites that use RSS 2.0 can participate in Pubsubhubbub, and bad because those of us building readers still have to deal with two competing formats.

Also on the bad side, and especially pertinent to me, is the lack of any kind of media extensions for Atom.  There’s been some chatter in the past about using the Media RSS extensions inside of Atom, but it appears that nothing ever came of that.  Atom has an “enclosure” element that adds some media capability, but it’s pretty minimal.  The Atom Publishing Protocol specification allows for media, but not to any great extent.   There’s also a proposed standard for Atom Media Extensions, although I find no mention of it on the IETF’s site.

So I’m left with this choice:  publish RSS 2.0 with Media RSS extensions (both non-standard), or publish a severely crippled Atom standard document.  Since it’s likely that RSS 2.0 will continue to thrive and it looks like there are no standard media extensions to Atom, it looks like I’m stuck with RSS.  Unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes.

We love standards.  That’s why we have so many of them.