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

Ryan King ryan at technorati.com
Thu Dec 7 11:45:08 PST 2006

On Dec 6, 2006, at 5:45 AM, Bruce D'Arcus wrote:
> On 12/5/06, Scott Reynen <scott at randomchaos.com> wrote:
> ...
>> In HTML or JSON, new formats need new parsers, which must be written
>> by someone.
> Exactly. The point is if you have a generic model you have a  
> generic parser.
>> Elias is coming from an RDF background, and microformats
>> simply aren't RDF, and they never will be.  And that's a good thing.
>> If what you want is RDF, just use RDF.
> The issue isn't really microformats vs. RDF (except as RDF provides a
> model), but microformats vs. RDFa.
> Both microformats and RDFa are addressing the exact same use cases and
> requirements (augmenting visible content with structured data).
> RDFa includes namespacing, the lack of which is already a problem in
> microformats (witness hCite and the serious awkwardness that title
> will be indicate using fn), and which will grow over time as more and
> more people want to mark up their content.
> Moreover, the need to write dedicate code for each new microformat
> will also present serious scalability problems.

Yes, in order to parse and consume microformats, you'll have to have  
code that knows about those formats.

The RDF dream of having a generic parser and model has yet to win on  
the open web. I'm more than happy to let the market decide whether  
it's more value to have formats that are easy to publish, or those  
that are easy to parse (I'm sure you can guess which side I'll take).

> Finally, that there's no model at the heart of microformats with clear
> extension rules means that the vaunted social process here is a mess.
> It's all centralized, and people get frustrated when their pet
> property isn't included because they know what that means: the tools
> written for the blessed microformats won't see them.

I agree that there are cases where we can be more organized and I'm  
more than willing to implement new tools or processes to do this.

Also, I'm not sure how 'people not getting their pet properties' is a  
problem specific to microformats.

With other technologies, like XML, the person who didn't get their  
pet property included in a given namespace could create their own  
namespace and advocate that people make use of it. Still, I don't  
believe that it changes the reality that tools won't know what to do  
with it unless *someone* writes some code. I don't think the  
situation is any worse in microformats, and it may in fact be better.  
If your 'pet property' doesn't make it into a microformat, you can  
still publish it and advocate that others use it. If consumers of  
said microformat decide that the data is valuable, they'll parse it  
and if enough people do this, then it'll get added to the microformat.


Ryan King
ryan at technorati.com

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