WordPress version 2.9 came out this week and one of the features that made me sit up and take notice was the new support for oEmbed for embedding content (Thanks Brajeshwar for the link). oEmbed is one of those things that I feel not enough people know about, well at least in my circle. The oEmbed specification basically allows you to query a url and retrieve the significant embedded content on that page. The idea was concepted by Leah Culver (formerly of Pownce, the Twitter on steroids app that didn’t make it) and her announcement post on the spec is a good read to understand more about the idea.
So what this means is, now to embed a video from YouTube (or any other site that supports it) at a page http://www.youtube.com/abcdef, WordPress users dont have to copy paste an embed block of code, they just have to paste the link to the video in their post and WordPress will automatically swap the link with embedded video. While this is convenient for people like me who run our own blogs, its a huge deal for the less technical users on hosted WordPress blogs who may not know how to use the embed blocks or may not be allowed arbitrary html in their posts. Thats a huge deal for syndication! The specification goes beyond video of course and includes any embedded content, like slideshows, presentations etc. And of course WordPress doing this is great but I imagine a lot more applications will start using this feature soon.
I have to admit, after the collapse of Pownce, I thought oEmbed would not go anywhere but the sites listed on the WordPress feature post are a lot of the big players.
Its great to see a good idea go beyond the product that spawned it.