To say that blogging is a global phenomenon would be the understatement of the year. Blogging and bloggers are everywhere; as such, they want the ability to post to and read from blogs everywhere. This may mean reading on a cell phone screen, posting from a Pocket PC, submitting comments via email—you name it. Greater flexibility means more frequent and more timely blog entries, which in turn means more traffic. With many big-name blogging sites such as Blogger.com supporting the Atom API, adding this sort of flexibility is easier than ever.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the Atom API and how it’s used by Blogger in particular, and dive into some code examples that will show you how to interact with Atom from any .NET app.
The Origin of Atom
The Atom API is a standard means of delivering, receiving, and updating web-based content. As detailed in this XML.com overview, Atom is essentially the product of a few independent blogging-related APIs, like those from LiveJournal and Blogger’s own proprietary API. A new API called MetaWeblog was created to try to bring the divergent blogging APIs together in a single API using XML-RPC and RSS-styled XML.
However, this new API proved to be too complicated and problematic, leading to a second (and far more successful) universal blogging API: Atom. Atom is relatively similar to the original Blogger API, but much more robust and extensible. Largely because of its history, the API is most commonly used for blogging, but can be used for handling just about any sort of HTML-styled chunks of updates.
Even Blogger, about the most popular blogging service on the web, doesn’t utilize the full extent of Atom, but looking at how Atom is used at Blogger is a good introduction to the API.