RSS For Two-Way Integration

posted on 2005-09-22 at 23:41:06 by Joel Ross

I was listening to Daily Source Code #241 and Adam talked about Jon Udell's interview with Bill Gates, and he was questioning what BillG was talking about when he mentioned two-way RSS. Adam asked what that meant.

I don't claim to know, but it did get me thinking about how you could use RSS for two-way integration between two disparate systems.

Note: By writing this, I am in no way saying this is the best way to integrate systems. I'm just throwing it out there.

So, imagine that you make a request to a third party system. What if, as a response, instead of telling you the status or giving you a key to check the status, you got an RSS feed that can be checked periodically to get status information? Plus, instead of passing data across the wire to a system that may not be ready to receive it, you could send a feed that the third party app could use to grab data as it's ready for it.?

Here's an example of what an interaction could be. I place an order. You tell me if it can be filled, and if not, how many I can get. I confirm I want that many. You tell me the total. I send payment information. You confirm that payment was received. I send shipping information. You confirm with a shipping date. You then confirm when it's shipped. I confirm that the shipment was received.

Instead of actively requesting data, it just becomes available on the feed as each system puts it there - when it's appropriate for it to be there. For example, you don't put up payment information until you know what you're buying.

Like I said, this probably isn't the best way to integrate systems, and is a bastardization of the intended use of RSS, but it would be a standard way for integration to work - no questions about how to technically provide communication. The problems are two-fold. First, how do you?serialize and deserialize data. Of course, that problem already exists in a web service integration model, except you're able to define as part of the web service how the messag should look. It's not as easy to define a data format with RSS. The other part of the problem is in expecting data to be on the feed in a particular order. In the above interaction, data is expected to be there in order - you wouldn't want payment information available before an order is placed.

Anyway, it's just an idea. Any feedback?

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