Over on Scripting News, Dave Winer has been talking about the concept of ‘codecasting’ whereby instead of audio or video being sent via an RSS enclosure, a software update for the receiving app could be downloaded and installed.
This is very much like the way that all Dave’s Frontier-based applications have updated for some time, I believe.
I have been suggesting alternate uses for the RSS enclosure for some time myself. But also leveraging the very nature and characteristics of OPML and RSS too.
I think that the distributed media network model provided by an approach of ‘OPML plus RSS to the Power of Users’ – as in development at podcast.com ) could also power a software documentation system. I have also suggested this could also power the perfect forum software, but more on that in another post)
Imagine a directory where all the top level folders were software vendors. The next level would be software languages and applications.
Then the next level, drilling into the folder (via OPML inclusion) would be the language/software API itself. A list of each method/verb etc. These could even be categorised prior to this list, depending on the software it is documenting.
Each method/verb link in this OPML list would link to an RSS feed. IE: Every function available has its own RSS feed. The title of the feed is the name of the verb, the description is the description of the function being documented, with an example.
Then every RSS feed item below it is actually the user/developer generated content – the cool snippets of code – the wisdom – the experience : the BEST bits. 🙂 Look at PHP.net and see that often the most useful information on each function page is actually the list of submitted comments below the official instructions. Also see Macromedia/Adobe’s LiveDocs. Most APIs have a tree like structure which OPML lends itself to building very easily.
Touching briefly on the concept that OPML alone could power forum applications, then the depth of communication and knowledge available for future groks is incredible.
And the best thing being is that all this would be ‘WELL-FORMED’ data. It could document almost any software language ever made.
ps: I am suggesting all this to the owners of software.com – for like podcast.com, I believe that generic domains should do what they ‘have a duty to do‘. Anything else, and they are merely squatters trying to make a fast buck. (imho)