In reading Richard MacManus' Why Google is extending RSS, I couldn't help feeling that he was missing the point a bit. It's as if he was focusing on the small things ("Why RSS?") rather than looking at the bigger picture of where all this is going.

It's not about building an easier onramp to Google Base.

Well, it is. But, again, that's the small stuff.

GData is the realization of the future that Adam Bosworth spoke about at the 2005 MySQL Users Conference.

It just so happened that I re-listened to his talk a several weeks ago during a walk to the bank. Hearing it for the second time, I was much more receptive to his ideas about creating a simple and open replacement for all the proprietary communications protocols currently in use by database vendors. By using HTTP and RSS or Atom, one could get 80% of the needed functionality while also greatly simplifying how things work.

The benefit is that you'd have a single API that could be used to query, update, and index structured data on the web--anywhere on the web. It's a pretty powerful vision and something I didn't expect to see for a couple more years.

Give his talk a listen and tell me if you don't see Adam's fingerprints all over GData. It's time well spent if you care about this stuff.

Play now:

Download MP3

The next logical questions, for me at least, are:

  1. Will MySQL add native GData support to the server anytime soon?
  2. Should Yahoo begin to enable a GData API on our data stores?

I hope the answer to #1 is "yes, they should" and suspect the answer to #2 is "probably--at least for some of them."


Posted by jzawodn at April 25, 2006 10:42 AM

Reader Comments
# Doug Cutting said:

Yesterday I proposed a "Summer of Code" project to implement a GData server on top of Lucene.

So, with luck, by Fall we should have an open-source GData server available from Apache.

on April 25, 2006 11:09 AM
# /pd said:

Jeremy, my initalt thoughts are its good. Extensions of RSS is similar to what MSFT is doing for SSE and OPML.

Secondly , we must also remember that Jason just joined the RSS Adivsory Board. IF there is forking of RSS formats and protols sets, then this must be done for the better of the whole- ...

.. I maybe wrong on my thinking here..and if so I'll stand corrected

on April 25, 2006 11:28 AM
# mca said:

exposing a shared api for data services is a big plus. the gdata api is just one of the attempts, tho. there's opensearch, s3, the atom APP initiative, and a others are sure to follow.

above all, it's important (imho) to keep the api open and extensible. and not tied to a single vendor or internet brand.

on April 25, 2006 11:54 AM
# Hashim said:

how do I embed an audio player into my blog, like you just did? Sorry, I'm a music blogger, with just a passing interest in this database stuff.

on April 25, 2006 12:19 PM
# DeWitt Clinton said:

mca wrote: "the gdata api is just one of the attempts, tho. there's opensearch, s3, the atom APP initiative, and a others are sure to follow."

Just a note that GData leverages both APP and OpenSearch... They all compliment each other, not compete.


on April 25, 2006 01:55 PM
# Gerry said:

Anyone could develop a storage engine to interface with GData, not only MySQL.

on April 25, 2006 05:39 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I'm not suggesting a storage engine. I'm suggesting protocol support so that a MySQL server speaks GData to clients.

Having a storage engine that groks GData would be cool too, of course.

on April 25, 2006 05:40 PM
# Maurice said:

Hmm Will have a listen to the pod cast (ime going to need a larger ipod)


I though SQL was "single API" or isnt that Web2.0 enuf.

Also 80% functionality shure the easy 80%

You need to get Oracle and Sqlserver to suport it not just the runt of the litter database wise.

on April 26, 2006 08:07 AM
# grumpY! said:

a query language against xml...isn't this precisely what xquery/xpath are designed for? although gdata doesn't specifically appear to mandate that the document corpus be encoded as xml (that appears to be left to the storage engine to define), one could argue that xquery likewise does not impose a specific technique for storing and resolinvg queries on the data.

the key advantage of xpath is that you can reuse code elements in your javascript on client pages. maybe this isn't a big deal, but its one less thing to translate.

if there is a peer-reviewed alternative in xquery, then i would give that preference. i don't put too much trust in any single-vendor spec.

on April 26, 2006 09:05 AM
# grumpY! said:

furthermore, is gdata limited to the atom spec? definitely a strike against it. also there seems to be a tacit implication in the example section that gdata lets you "write" and "delete".....??? these are standard http/rest concerns.

on April 26, 2006 09:11 AM
# Nick Wilson said:

They'd have made it so much easier if they'd called it anything bug G data...

on April 27, 2006 01:11 AM
# cy said:

Very interesting. In a directly practical sense, I can see how this would make it easy to bulk import up stuff to sell, buy adds, update classifieds, and the such. I can see Amazon and eBay using something like this too.

on April 27, 2006 08:38 AM
# Kevin Burton said:

You wouldn't want native GData access. The performance would be horrible and most schema's don't map to GData semantics (nor would you want to force them).

Its trivial to write templates to handle this stuff.


on April 27, 2006 12:52 PM
# colbert said:

Jeremy. Nice post. I've replied in my own thoughts at

on May 1, 2006 05:18 PM
# Sumit Datta said:

I have applied for a GData module for Drupal under Google Summer of Code 2006. GData looks promising and I hope, we have more support for GData. This could be the ultimate answer to all RSS, Atom and a variety of other protocols. We surely need a single answer to problems.

on May 8, 2006 08:11 AM
# Simon Willnauer said:

I applied for doug cuttings proposal and got accepted for the project in late Mai. Now there are 9 days left and the apache lucene gdata server is up and running. Well that's still in early development status but if you are interested in it visit the wiki @
and see what happend...

best regards simon

A lucene gdata server is running here:

on August 12, 2006 05:07 PM
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