It turns out that the Atom Protocol isn’t good enough for whatever part of Microsoft Dare Obasanjo works in, he says. Three things should be said: First, Dare’s arguments are bogus. Second, if you were paranoid and cynical, you might wonder what Microsoft’s up to (I’m paranoid and cynical.) Finally, this is actually good news. [Update: Check out Dare’s GData isn't a Best Practice Implementation of the Atom Publishing Protocol and Microsoft and the Atom Publishing Protocol, and especially Joe Cheng’s Microsoft is not sabotaging APP (probably). It looks like Microsoft will be joining the APP party after all; excellent! On GData: as of April’s interop event, GData, based on an early draft of the APP, was far from being an interoperable drop-in implementation. But that’s what the event was for; Kyle Marvin and the Googlers gathered tons of hands-on data and, last time I checked, still say they intend to do APP straight-up.]
He’s Wrong · Joe Gregorio covers most of the territory: In which we narrowly save Dare from inventing his own publishing protocol. Dare’s claim that APP doesn’t cover the synchronization problem is really egregious and establishes that he doesn’t actually understand APP (no surprise, he hasn’t participated in the WG since 2005 and didn’t take the trouble to come to the interop meeting). When one of his commenters pointed this out he harumphed “Of course, I haven't found any Atom servers or other RESTful Web service implementations that support this in the wild but that doesn't mean it isn't possible” which I would translate as “What I said was completely wrong”.
But what made my blood pressure threaten to squirt out my ears was the line about re-inventing WebDAV poorly, repeated in the comments. This is cluelessness on a Napoleonic scale, establishing that Dare doesn’t actually understand the key difference between APP and WebDAV (In APP, the server takes care of navigating the URI space; in WebDAV, the client owns the problem.) WTF!?!?
So, while APP might not work for some part of Microsoft, it won’t be for Dare’s reasons. One would assume that the world’s largest software company, when facing a technology choice, would take the trouble to actually, you know, understand the technologies involved, but the evidence doesn’t support that assumption.
Why? · The thing is, I’ve seen this movie before: The movie where there’s an emerging standard that’s got some buzz and looks promising and maybe it’ll raise the tide and float all our boats a little higher, and then Microsoft says they won’t play.
Since there are huge numbers of computers out there with Microsoft client software, APP-enabling those clients would definitely lift the tide. But then, of course, the people using those computers would be able to post to any old online property they want to. As opposed to just Spaces. By the way, Dare has spent quite a bit of time on the Spaces team.
Do I believe that Microsoft would deliberately steer their client implementations away from APP and toward something else that Windows Live Spaces would have the first and perhaps only implementation of? Well, um... yes.
But I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Microsoft has tried to swim against the current of the Internet a few times before, and it’s basically never worked. So they can go and invent their own publishing protocol and that’s sad, because it’ll be wasted work. Oh well, shit happens.
This Isn’t Bad News · There’s another movie I’ve seen before. It’s the movie where an interesting new protocol or interface or API comes along, is starting to get adoption, and big incumbent vendors say “That’s too simple for our needs”. Examples of such technologies include Unix, C, SQL, Java, and RSS: the kinds of technologies that end up winning. (I’ve written about this before in the TPSM series: The 80/20 Point).
There are places (network TV, Middle Eastern politics) where cluelessness regularly triumphs. Internet protocols aren’t one of them. Sorry, Dare. And this kind of movie usually has a happy ending.