OPML is spectacularly lousy

Sunday, Jul 18, 2004, 00:00 (updated Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011, 18:10)

OPML blows chunks. This is my conclusion after a good two hours spent on exasperated googling: the specification is about as vague and informal as could be, the format misuses XML badly, and vital parts of it used widely by feed aggregators seem to be documented nowhere at all. Yuck. I guess I’ll end up deciphering the information I need from existing working code and hope it works in the general case.

This all started as what I thought would be a fun small scripting exercise: I was going to throw together a little script that would turn someone’s LiveJournal friends list into an OPML blogroll. Instead I spent more time beating on Google in mounting frustration, fruitlessly attempting to find something – anything –, as it would have taken to write the code for a better specified format. I came out empty-handed.

Update: Uche Ogbuji has ranted about the format, and Léon Brocard reports of a quote from a Ben Hammersley/Timothy Appnel talk at OSCON ’05:

Working with OPML is like driving nails into the floor with your forehead.

Update: I can’t believe I never linked to Charles Miller’s most eloquent panning of the format.