Hey Apple Newsroom team! You’ve got some bugs in your RSS feed.
I discovered this bug recently after adding the Apple Newsroom feed to my Feedly. The expected behavior when you click on the title of an article in Feedly is that it takes you to the article on the source website. In Apple Newsroom’s case, it took me to a new tab. Odd.
I wrote Feedly support and got a quick reply from the CEO Edwin:
Thanks for the heads up Michael,
We will take a look at this tomorrow.
I dug a little bit more, curious mostly, and found some interesting things.
The Newsroom RSS Feed
Not RSS, rather Atom
Despite the feed URL referencing an RSS feed https://www.apple.com/newsroom/rss-feed.rss, the feed is an Atom feed.
That’s okay, it doesn’t really matter so long as the XML in the feed validates as Atom, and it does successfully validate as a “valid Atom 1.0 feed”.
Lots of CDATA
For those who need a refresher, CDATA or character data, as defined by Wikipedia: “In an XML document or external parsed entity, a CDATA section is a section of element content that is marked for the parser to interpret purely as textual data, not as markup.”
However, all the content in every tag in the feed begins with
<![CDATA[. Odd and unnecessary it seems.
The Bug: No Link Tag
What I discovered is that Apple’s Newsroom feed is malformed. Specifically, it includes the link to the article, for example the link to the most recent article — AirPods, the world’s most popular wireless headphones, are getting even better — in the
id tag. Again, odd.
If you hop over to the W3 Feed Validation Service, they’ve got a nice summary of the Atom specification, RFC 4287. As the page notes, the
link element contained in the
entry element “Identifies a related Web page. The type of relation is defined by the
rel attribute. A feed is limited to one
hreflang. A feed should contain a link back to the feed itself.”
That’s where the link to the article should be, in the
link tag, not in the
id tag. The
id tag “Identifies the entry using a universally unique and permanent URI.”
Link Tag used for Images
The Newsroom feed breaks the Atom standard here as well as it includes not a single
link element for the article, but three, and they’re all images associated with the article not links to the article itself:
<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="New AirPods build on the magical experience customers love delivering 50 percent more talk time, hands-free “Hey Siri” and the option of a new Wireless Charging Case." type="image/jpeg" /> <link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones-hey-siri_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="The new AirPods feature the convenience of "Hey Siri" making it easier to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions." type="image/jpeg" /> <link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones_woman-wearing-airpods_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="Switching between iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac is two times faster with the new AirPods." type="image/jpeg" />
Opportunities for Improvement
The CDATA comment aside, I’d love to see the body of the articles, the
content element, contain richly formatted HTML. Their webpage certainly has beautifully formatted HTML.
The only HTML elements in use in their feed are:
<a> <br/> <li> <strong> <ul>
Where are the paragraph tags? Where are all the nice inline images? And if you notate all the content as CDATA, that doesn’t really help your formatting woes. Adding
<content type="html"> would also help.
Here is what their feed articles look like today in Feedly:
I sent a thorough email to Apple’s Media Helpline email address and to the two folks listed as media contacts on the most recent article. As I should have expected, that’s not the right way to report a bug on their website. I received the following reply:
Shucks. So I’m writing this post in hopes that someone on the Apple Newsroom team, or the team that maintains the CMS for the Newsroom team notices and fixes the feed. I love Atom feeds! And I know lots of other people do too.
Thanks in advance for fixing up the feed, Apple.