validating microformats (was Re: [uf-discuss] Google Gdata new syndication protocol!)

brian suda brian.suda at
Fri Apr 21 08:07:31 PDT 2006

See dev list:


Benjamin Carlyle wrote:
> On Thu, 2006-04-20 at 23:38 +0100, Nick Swan wrote:
>> I'm working on a tool for discovering and validating microformats.
> ...
>> I could really do with a flow diagram or something like that of how to
>> parse/validate microformats.
> ...
>> On 4/20/06, Breton Slivka <zen at> wrote: 
>>         norman walsh recently posted inn his blog about this very
>>         issue
> Microformat validation seems like a hard problem to me, or at least a
> low-value one. Here are the problems I see:
> 1) Microformats permit any underlying html structure to be used, so
> there is nothing to validate there that the w3c validator doesn't
> already do.
> 2) Microformats allow arbitrary extension though the use of custom html
> classes provided by the document author. Unknown classes are still
> valid, so they can't be declared as errors.
> 3) The only validation that is possible is to ensure all data that must
> be present in a particular microformat is present. That also seems a
> little lightweight to me, because most microformats are fairly
> minimialist in their approach to what information must be provided. It's
> human's first and machines second, so whatever you happen to publish is
> probably enough to be marked up as a microformat.
> So what does validation mean for a micrormat? I think the only criteria
> for success that we can meaningfully apply is that the data we put into
> the document came back out again through a machine-operated process. We
> already have the machine operated processes for various microformats
> (x2v, hAtom2Atom.xsl, etc), but a human must still be in the loop to
> determine whether all of their data got through or not. Unfortunately,
> that's another "by definition" problem. If the data isn't
> machine-readable in the first place, a machine won't know it's missing.
> So, what do we mean by microformat validation? I think x2v+human and
> hAtom2Atom.xsl+human is the best we can hope for. We can try and do
> heuristic validation ("this class name you used looks like one that
> could mean something if it were written in a different way"), but the
> heuristics would have to be bourne out of implementation experience with
> "common errors" for particular microformats.
> Comments?
> Benjamin.
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