inessential by Brent Simmons

Gzip compression and RSS

The new version of NetNewsWire supports gzip compression—which sounds like a really boring thing.

And it is. Unless you’re looking for ways to save bandwidth.

It works like this: when downloading a feed, NetNewsWire tells the server that it supports compression. If the server also supports compression, it returns a compressed version of the feed. This means less actual bytes are transferred, which saves bandwidth.

This is such a good idea that Ted Leung has been keeping track of which aggregators support compression. (I’ll have to email him about NetNewsWire.)

But here’s the thing—it looks like hardly any servers support compression. Here’s a screen shot of my bandwidth stats window. Note the new gzips column, and note how there are only four (out of 99) feeds that have returned compressed data. (Even my own feeds don’t support compression yet.)

So—I wish I had a cool pitch of some kind, something to say besides, “Hey, server admin, please support compression.”

But I don’t, so I just say hey, server admin, please support compression.