vCards over RSS – a Proposed System

"vCards over RSS" is a proposed system to allow automatic updates of contact information.

The Problem:

While contact data can be exported from web applications, in forms such as vCards and CSV, there is no mechanism to receive continual updates. Instead users are forced to either abandon their desktop address books or continually download vCard or CSV files.

Proposed Solution:

Using the existing RSS 2.0 standard, we can use enclosures (typically used for podcasts) to reference a vCard. This provides a number of advantages:

  1. The date and time the contact was updated is included in the feed, thus the downloading program will only download cards that have been updated
  2. Servers will only have to generate a small percentage of the cards as the downloading program will only ask for cards that are actually new or updated (compared to what is already in their internal database)
  3. RSS is already a well known standard that can easily be generated and parsed


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>People - All</title>
<lastBuildDate>Mon, 31 Mar 2008 00:37:07 +0000</lastBuildDate>
<title>John Miles - Apple</title>
<enclosure url=";token=[REMOVED]&amp;loginid=1" type="text/x-vCard" />
<pubDate>Sun, 23 Mar 2008 15:10:45 -0700</pubDate>
<title>Jane Winkle - Cisco</title>
<enclosure url=";token=[REMOVED]&amp;loginid=1" type="text/x-vCard" />
<pubDate>Wed, 26 Mar 2008 08:44:05 -0700</pubDate>
<title>Barbara Tora - USA Today</title>
<enclosure url=";token=[REMOVED]&amp;loginid=1" type="text/x-vCard" />
<pubDate>Sat, 1 Mar 2008 14:00:18 -0700</pubDate>


There is nothing in this idea that the majority of developers don't already know how to do. In fact it isn't really a new standard, just a new use of an existing one. To show our commitment, Heap CRM already supports vCards over RSS. This means any desktop application that understands this system will immediately have potential customers from Heap CRM Hosted, OnSite and Enterprise.

4 Responses to “vCards over RSS – a Proposed System”

  1. links for 2008-04-01 | Jonathan Coffman - Convergence Journalism Specialist and New-Media Evangelist Says:

    [...] WBP SYSTEMS / Weblog » Blog Archive » vCards over RSS - a Proposed System addthis_url = ''; addthis_title = 'links+for+2008-04-01'; addthis_pub = 'jdcoffman'; [...]

  2. Alex Says:

    This is a very nice idea. Are there any clients which implement this already.

  3. Ben Says:

    Unfortunately, no. But the idea is only about three weeks old.

  4. Ben Says:

    A new developer site is now located at:

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