Interop between blogging tools

I’ve been reading lots of reports about the current TypePad outage, but while the outage is still going on, I don’t want to appear to interfere. I remember how awful it was to have popular bloggers jumping on my case when I last had a big outage.

This time, after the outage is cleared, we should begin a discussion, in earnest, about getting user’s data in a format that makes it easy to move between blogging software, and storing that data somewhere that’s not likely to go offline when there’s an outage. I think this will do a lot to help users feel empowered, which is the hardest part about not being able to access your blog, the feeling that there’s nothing you can do to help yourself. (David Berlind writes passionately about this.)

Of course there will be debate about what the format should be, it wouldn’t be the software industry without such a debate, but this time we should reach closure and interop. But let’s hold off that discussion until the outage is over and the users are back up.

18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Roger Strickland on December 17, 2005 at 10:02 pm

    If Dave’s initiative here can come up with a best practices methodology for handling data export/backup, SlapCast.com is on board. I have no interest in creating a walled garden or mouse trap from which my users cannot escape. (See my adventure this week where I mistakenly let the SlapCast.com domain expire leaving my users and their subscribers in the lurch for about a day.)

    Aside from the data format questions, here are some thoughts on how bloggers might best retain complete control over thier online presence:
    - every blogger registers their own domain
    - the blogger controls DNS themselves via a service like zoneedit.com
    - bloggers are therefore able to switch IP addresses as needed and route around outages from their service providers, transfer to new services whenever they like, etc.

    Negatives:
    - complicated

    Dave, maybe part of this initiative should include standards for URL formats in various blogging tools, i.e. http://mydomain.com/rss.xml always points to the RSS feed regardless of WordPress, Typo, MovableType, etc. That way there is no need for “please use my new feed at this URL” messages when hosting providers or software changes. This might be as simple as including default .htaccess files with blogging software and changing templates to point to the standard URL (no heavy code changes needed).

    Reply

  2. Posted by David Jacobs on December 17, 2005 at 10:13 pm

    Six Apart is the only blogging company in the world that has shipped *all* of their apps with an “export” button from day one.

    Reply

  3. Six Apart does provide “export” functions in MT- but in fairness, the export and import can be sketchy at times with the 6A tools. That’s been my experience anyway.

    I don’t think that a format necessarily solves the problem Dave describes, but it would be nice for users to be more empowered to change services and maintain more control over their content. It probably works against the economic interests of many though- I doubt that we’ll see much progress in this area for that reason.

    Reply

  4. [...] Over at Hockey Pundits, Jordon is linking to this excellent post by Dave Winer.  Dave is calling for a compatible blogging data format This time, after the outage is cleared, we should begin a discussion, in earnest, about getting user’s data in a format that makes it easy to move between blogging software, and storing that data somewhere that’s not likely to go offline when there’s an outage. I think this will do a lot to help users feel empowered, which is the hardest part about not being able to access your blog, the feeling that there’s nothing you can do to help yourself. (David Berlind writes passionately about this.)Of course there will be debate about what the format should be, it wouldn’t be the software industry without such a debate, but this time we should reach closure and interop. But let’s hold off that discussion until the outage is over and the users are back up. [...]

    Reply

  5. The point here is emphatically NOT to put any vendor on the defensive.

    Reply

  6. Dave, I appreciate you being thoughtful with the comments while we’ve been working through the issues, and let me know how we can participate in the conversation about import/export.

    Reply

  7. Dave: I’ve got a few users who use my services for backup purposes. A couple days ago, the woman who runs this site:

    http://iheartbacon.com/

    …joined one my freebie, demo communities, set up a local blog, and subscribed it to her existing blog:

    http://living.journurl.com/users/megwoo/

    From now on, whenever she posts new entries to her original, Textpattern-powered blog, they’ll show up in her “backup blog” a few hours later.

    The only format(s) needed for this are RSS/Atom. Granted, in the example case, the feed she’s using is a particularly threadbare 0.92 feed, so the results are sub-optimal… but you get the idea.

    Reply

  8. Posted by anon on December 18, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    Since blog posts are public, an always-on P2P repository makes sense.

    Reply

  9. I was one of the ‘hosed’ users and I’m now moving to WP – though that will be temporary as I prefer the taxonomy stuff you get in Drupal. But the export/import was a lot easier than I thought. I used WP import-mt.php – worked a treat.

    Moving to Drupal looks a lot more challenging but then the Drupal folk tend to be more geeky. That’s something they might want to look at in a world where rolling your own needs to be simpler, especially when comparing to commercial offerings..

    Reply

  10. Home about an OPML archive of RSS files. Something like this…
    http://www.kbcafe.com/rss/archive.xml
    Very simple, uses existing technology.

    Reply

  11. typo

    How about…

    Reply

  12. It seems that a number of blogging tools are doing import/export quite nicely using the Movable Type import/export format. It seems that that’s where the bootstrap is.

    It’s not entirely stable just yet, but it does work, and the format’s been around for ages. I moved Marc Canter’s blog from Movable Type to WordPress a while ago… the export from MT worked well, for all 1200+ posts and many thousands of spam comments. The import wasn’t quite as smooth – import-mt.php in WordPress 1.5 is still a bit flaky, it seems – but it succeeded eventually.

    Reply

  13. Dave, perhaps something called BlogML (http://blogml.com) might be the answer? More on blogML.

    Reply

  14. SixApart is not the only blogging company that has shipped their tools with export from day one. All of Tucows blogging tools, Blogware included, have had a data export function since day one.

    A standard would be nice and useful – however given the track record of blogging vendors in agreeing on such things, I’m not holding my breath – let me know when the dust settles after Google and Six Apart have gotten together on this – or Six and WordPress or any two of the influencers in this space really.

    Reply

  15. Think about this….what’s the impetus for the blogging companies to provide this type of tool? By providing such a tool, users are more likely to jump ship and go to the hotest platform of the month. That would mean that the blogging companies would have to spend more money on attracting new users to replace the ones that left for another platform. It reminds me too much of the current cell phone market for my tastes.

    That being said, exporting everything to XML would be the best way to get the data out in my opinon, but I will not expect to see that anytime soon.

    Sean—

    Reply

  16. what’s the impetus for the blogging companies to provide this type of tool? By providing such a tool, users are more likely to jump ship and go to the hotest platform of the month

    It works both ways: If a high-profile potential customer has several years worth of high-traffic data, and there’s a common import/export format, then they can very easily migrate *to* your service. As a vendor, one of the best things to see would be reports of “I moved my site to BlogToolX and it was extremely easy” (or so it seems to me).

    Reply

  17. [...] Hace un mes aproximadamente hubo un problema en TypePad que tuvo los servidores caídos un día entero. Esto generó debates en foros y blogs en los que se discutía sobre la posibilidad de que TypePad permitiera exportar los contenidos de un blog para que estos fueran importados en otra plataforma y la información siguiera estando disponible a pesar de la caída del servicio. [...]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers

%d bloggers like this: