Pushing RSS

By Deane Barker on April 28, 2004

While I was hanging out at the hospital waiting for the new addition, I got to wondering if RSS has to be “pull” by definition. Could you “push” updates from a site to a client?

Say you have a notification client — a little app that sits on your desktop. You log into it, and it notifies the site that it’s waiting for notifications on port X. This inserts the IP and port number of the client in a table of connected clients on the Web server. When the site is updated, it runs through this table and pushes XML to the IPs and ports in the table.

This came up because the nurses would often sit back at the station and monitor patients from there. Now, I realized you wouldn’t do patient monitoring via blog, but say there was some event that happened on a site that was important enough to warrant more than the standard “poll-every-15-minutes” notifications. If you pushed the XML like I explain above, end users would get it in semi real-time.

If you used this in conjunction with NewsGator’s ability to format and display arbitrary data, you could really move any information around quite well.

In the end, it’s a cross between the “push” of email and the “pull” of RSS, I guess. Quite possibly pointless.



  1. First off, only you, Deane, would be thinking about RSS while your wife is in labor.

    Basically, though, we tried doing something similar to this with the live image broadcasts from NFL games a few years ago. The ideal solution was to have a Java applet running in the browser that bound itself to an empty socket and listened for UDP broadcasts. The down side is that you have to deal with all the firewall crap that goes along with pushing things to machines that aren’t servers.

    I think the ideal solution would be to combine RSS with a repurposed IM protocol (Jabber, anyone? XML-based, extensible, and non-proprietary). Then you’ve (somewhat) solved the firewall crap and it’s a standard protocol that there are already libraries for. I’ve always though that data-centric IM-style communication could open the doors for a whole class of apps that push information intelligently in real-time.

  2. This is something we had in mind for Awasu way back in the early days and RSS 2.0 has support for this kind of thing as well –

    The big problem is firewalls :-(

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