Article feeds and feed readers have been kind of a dead topic on the internet since the scramble to replace Google Reader. That changed this past week when Brent Simmons and Manton Reece announced JSON Feed, a new feed format that avoids the XML complexities of RSS and Atom in favor of very simple JSON. All the cool kids on the internet started providing JSON feeds for their sites, and because I am nothing if not cool, I joined in. You can get the JSON feed for ANIAT here or by using the new link over in the sidebar.

I do find a few things odd about the enthusiasm over JSON Feed:

  1. I was under the impression that these same cool kids had all abandoned feed reading themselves, preferring to use links in their Twitter streams.
  2. As far as I can tell, none of the big feed readers support it yet. It wouldn’t be hard to do, but there’s very little incentive. Even sites that add JSON feeds will continue to publish XML feeds.
  3. There’s no advantage to end users. If and when feed readers start supporting JSON feeds, what they present to their users will look exactly the same.

Still, the simplicity of JSON Feed may lead to it beating out the older formats. Adding a JSON feed to a blogging platform takes almost no time because the code needed to gather the information has already been written for the RSS/Atom feeds. It took me about 20 minutes to make a JSON feed for this site, and that included the time I spent making and fixing boneheaded UTF-8 encoding errors.1 I haven’t tried to add JSON to my homemade feed reader, but I suspect it won’t take much longer.

  1. Yes, I’m still using Python 2.7.