[microformats-discuss] Carl Beeth raises an interesting point

Bud Gibson bud at thecommunityengine.com
Fri Jul 8 07:27:51 PDT 2005

Dear all:

When I was visiting Technorati 10 days ago, Ryan King was trying to  
make the point to Chris Messina that microformats provide a sort of  
API for web applications on the server and client side.  Neat  
insight, but on reflection,  not entirely true.  Microformats provide  
an xhtml format for data structures that can be passed back and forth  
through API calls.  An API  needs to also specify the available  
objects, their methods, input, and return values (substitute your  
favorite programming pardigm terms as needed).

As we start to do things like use microformats with ajax or to carry  
the return values from what amounts to a server side function call,  
we might want to thing about more explicitly specifying what lies at  
the other end of a URL that returns microformatted data.  Carl Beeth  
recently raised this exact point (it might have been in a private  
email, sorry) from a very pragmatic perspective when he was wrestling  
with hCard:

> I think we need to identify the link so as to not put to much burden
> on the user agent. ex:
> you decide to grab a minimal hcard from a web page. How does the
> browser know which link inside the hcard contains the full card, for
> that matter how does the browser know that there is a link to a
> complete hcard. In essence we would need to program the agent to fetch
> and scan all the urls within the hcard.
> So identifying the link is much easier on the user-agent/crawler. Of
> course, identifying the link adds some work for the author but less
> than if he needed to duplicate all the information.

Basically, Carl is proposing something like:

<a href="http://thecommunityengine.com/webcites"  
class="xfolk">returns xFolk entries</a>

to specify that the URL returns xFolk entries to extend his point  
beyond the purely hCard specific.  I was sceptical of this idea at  
first, but now think it makes a lot of sense and might actually be a  
good convention to adopt as either a meta or basic microformat (can't  
quite decide which, maybe a new category meta-basic).

Any thoughts?  I may just check with Carl and see if he wants to add  
this as a more formalized microformats proposal.  I bet a lot of  
people are experiencing this problem.  I can certainly see it in a  
project I'm about to start.


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