Gold stars for good feed readers!

Over the past few weeks, we've been rolling out support for proper cache control on the Journals blogging platform, which will help reduce both bandwidth and database load, and also make things faster in general.  Last week we added ETag based cache control for both Atom and RSS feeds.  Today I took a quick peek at our logs to see how things are going...

The good news is that a lot of feed readers are being great citizens.  Around 33% of our feed requests get satisfied with 304 responses, meaning that clients only need to do a quick validation that they have the latest content, rather than fetching everything all over again.  Here's a quick list of feed readers, in no particular order, which are doing the right thing with our servers.  Gold stars for everybody!
  • Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com)
  • FeedDemon/2.0
  • NewsGatorOnline/2.0
  • NetNewsWire/2.0
  • LiteFeeds/2.0
  • http://www.squeet.com
  • Firefox/
  • Thunderbird/
  • FacebookFeedParser/1.0 (UniversalFeedParser/4.1;) +http://facebook.com/
  • Windows-RSS-Platform/1.0
  • LiveJournal.com
  • Planet GBT +http://planetgbt.priyadi.net Planet/1.0~pre1-terasi+http://www.planetplanet.org UniversalFeedParser/3.3+http://feedparser.org/
    Google Desktop
Pretty clearly, the UniversalFeedParser library should get a lot of the credit.  It's great that the Windows RSS Platform is doing the right thing, considering the likely amount of traffic it's going to generate.

Surprisingly, we actually have a lower cache hit ratio for Atom feeds than RSS ones... mostly due to one major crawler that seems to prefer Atom feeds and never gets a 304, presumably because it's never sending an If-None-Match header:
  • Feedfetcher-Google; (+http://www.google.com/feedfetcher.html)
Hey Google: It would really help the stats if you guys could support ETags and If-None-Match.


  1. John,

    I'll let the Reader team know.


    Jason Shellen

  2. Jason -- Excellent, thanks!

    In the spirit of full disclosure:  Our own feed caching system (HLServer/1.0) also doesn't support ETags, but Joseph is working on it.  He is but one man.


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