Google Calendar and Atom

Google today launched Google Calendar. I am sure plenty of people will blog about it, so I won’t bother with a review of all its Ajaxy-goodness.


What I thought was interesting, however, is that Google Calendar does not support RSS. In fact it uses Atom exclusively. Only a small minority of people will care about this obscure technology fact, but in the syndication community I think this is tremendously significant. To an engineer, adding RSS support is trivial, so the syndication industry must ask themselves, and the RSS folks especially, why did Google only support Atom?

Google also introduced their own proprietary Atom elements or what I could only call the “Google Calendar Atom Extension.” The elements they introduced are:

  • transparency - unsure exactly what this is for
  • comments - which provides a link to a comment feed
  • eventStatus - which indicates whether an event is confirmed or not.
  • where - the location of the event
  • when - the time and duration of the event

Example Atom Elements

<gd:transparency value=""/>

  <gd:feedLink href=""/>

<gd:eventStatus value=""/>

<gd:where>My Living Room</gc:where>

<gd:when startTime="2006-04-13T20:00:00.000Z" endTime="2006-04-13T21:00:00.000Z"/>

Wrap-Up and Final Thoughts

It is a shame that Google did not use the more standard “Threads Extension” for Atom as opposed to a proprietary <comments> element. But I bet you anything Google will fix that. The threads extension is getting a lot of traction - I know that we (Six Apart) has released support for it on Friendster Blogs, and I know we intend to release it for TypePad. Plus I have my own implementation of it for Movable Type.

But regardless, as Anil always says, “shipping trumps everything else” so kudos to Google for getting it out there.

But back to one of the questions I posed earlier? Why did Google choose to support Atom exclusively? I personally think that Google foresaw that the issues with RSS are finally coming home to roost. Plus, standards are just better.

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I have been an advocate for the Atom Feed Thread extension for quite sometime, and am an active developer of it. Within Six Apart I have helped deploy the extension across over 1 million Friendster blogs, I have developed my... Read More

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