Google specs worth checking out

Its been ages since I've written in my blog, so I'm hoping to try and make up for that with a series of blog posts over the weekend.

While at BarCampLondon7, I attended a couple of sessions about some very cool technologies which Google are behind. Like most of you I'm skeptical of anything any large company does, specially specs but its hard to pick any hole in any of these I would say. Adewale also did a excellent job of explaining them and there context for use.

oEmbedoEmbed is a format for allowing an embedded representation of a URL on third party sites. The simple API allows a website to display embedded content (such as photos or videos) when a user posts a link to that resource, without having to parse the resource directly. Its already being used on Youtube and many others. You request a resource and it gives you back xml or json for the resource instead of returning a nasty piece of html or javascript. Very neat.

Salmon ProtocalSalmon aims to define a standard protocol for comments and annotations to swim upstream to original update sources — and spawn more commentary in a virtuous cycle So from what I understand, its an attempt to standardise all these commenting systems like cocomment and disqus (which I use on this blog even). They shouldn't really feel threaten because they could support Salmon and add value to the basic concept.

Wave federation protocal – Well this goes without saying but I learned that its now very easy to setup a wave server. So I expect I'll be playing with that soon. There's also a lovely guide to Wave by Gina Trapani which will grow into something much more complete in time.

A simple, open, server-to-server web-hook-based pubsub (publish/subscribe) protocol as an extension to Atom and RSS. Parties (servers) speaking the PubSubHubbub protocol can get near-instant notifications (via webhook callbacks) when a topic (feed URL) they're interested in is updated. This is a difficult one to explain but generally its a clever way to poll for updates without polling the server. Instead you submit a request and a status server alerts you to when the change has happened. It sounds complex but its actually not and its quite neat. Like most google things, its worth flicking through the presentations on the site.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and