What the heck is CDF?

I learned about something new yesterday. While reading a blog entry on ClickOnce security, I noticed a little feed icon down at the bottom of the page. Actually, there were three icons. The first two were RSS and ATOM, which I already knew about. The last one was labeled CDF. I had never heard of that before.

It turns out CDF stands for Channel Definition Format. It's the XML format Microsoft used for the "channels" they tried to push on users some time back. You may remember these from the days of Internet Explorer 4 and Active Desktop.

Although the format is officially obsolete as of Internet Explorer 7, a few people are apparently still using it for blog syndication. I don't know why. I can't imagine there's much demand for this. After all, I'd never even heard of it, and I'm far geekier about these things than the average person. And while I haven't read any of the specifications for CDF, a cursory examination of the file suggests that this might actually have less information than a simple RDF feed, so I don't see much gain.

A CDF feed in Internet Explorer

The only thing CDF buys you, as far as I can tell, is the ability to have blog entry links show up in your Internet Explorer favorites or your Active Desktop (if that even exists anymore), as seen above. Kind of like Firefox Live Bookmarks, but with less support. And I always thought live bookmarks was kind of a crappy feature anyway, so I don't know why you'd want an IE-specific format to get them. I guess it's no wonder CDF is obsolete.

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