[uf-discuss] Comments from IBM/Lotus rep about Microformats

S. Sriram ssriram at gmail.com
Wed Dec 6 06:56:59 PST 2006

From: "Bruce D'Arcus" <bdarcus.lists at gmail.com>
> The issue isn't really microformats vs. RDF (except as RDF provides a
> model), but microformats vs. RDFa.
> So while it might be comforting to dismiss RDFa and "it's not our
> problem", I don't think it's good strategy.

I agree..

Per [1] RDFa is akin to a language for microformats, as opposed to 
the current microformats which are a 'particular' defined set of class 
names in a defined order. A 'language parser' could parse all combinations
of 'syntactically' correct RDFa, whereas  with microformats each
particular format requires a particular parser.

Now when it comes to rendering the 'parsed output', knowing
what the parsed output is, is necessary. This is where the
need is to understand the 'particular output' *OR* have a
generic container (an hItem or a micro-microformat for an item)
so all-purpose renderers can view 'unknown/particular' parsed
output as a blackbox.

Distributed parsing
Allows for custom microformats to be developed with their
associated custom parsers and the output passed to the rendering 
engine. (possibly discovered by distributed rendering)
Note: This does not need any 'approval process' as all publishers 
are free to do this today i.e. build a custom microformat,
markup their pages appropriately, build a browser plug-in that
understands this and build a cutom renderer.

In other words, in the absence of a language parser (which can 
parse all combinations of a syntactically correct RDFa) the other 
way to accomodate custom microformats (elias's need) is through
distributed parsing.

Another way to look at it is that microformats (with defined
formats == known rendering) are aggregator-friendly, where RDFa and
distributed parsing/rendering are more user/institution friendly
which may explain where google/technorati(aggregator) v. ibm(institution)
are coming from.

My own feeling is that a model which includes both
1. a uf-language (RDFa) and
2. canned formats (microformats)
allows for greater flexibility, with canned formats allowing 
for aggregators/multiple tool vendors, where custom format developers would
have the burden/opportunity of rolling their own renderers. 

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-rdfa-primer/
S. Sriram

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