[uf-discuss] [chat] Microformats are not for data storage

Colin Barrett timber at lava.net
Sun Oct 29 21:58:16 PST 2006

Particularly, I'm going to be talking about "hChat".

Personally, I see the primary use case of a chat microformat to be for  
displaying of chat contents in a live (or semi-live) way. There are  
quite a few examples of this in the wild -- web-based IM clients like  
Meebo, and Adium and Kopete's message view, both of which are HTML  

Contrarily, most data formats are not HTML based (XML based, usually),  
or if they are, do not use modern HTML (i.e. AOL's HTML log format).

I think the chat group should alter its focus to providing ways to  
semantically talk about the structure of a chat and a particular  
message entry. One of the most obvious benefits in this area is much  
better clipboard support -- copying things out of Meebo and Adium/ 
Kopete's HTML view usually results in an un-useful mess.

Another important use case, that I think there has been some research  
towards already, is "snippets". That is, small snippets of an IM  
conversation in a blog post. This, conveniently, goes along with my  
earlier point about copy-paste.

Just a couple of other points that have been percolating:
  - the use of hCard to mark up people's names
  - Time zone information is important -- particularly wrt. time time  
zone of the sender and the time zone of the receiver.

This email has been a long time coming -- I've waited for a couple of  
months, just lurking and trying to understand the process. Should  
people agree that this is the direction research should go, I'll start  
working on getting links on the wiki to examples of documentations of  
chat representations. I think that the idea of chat *logging* is a  
well-solved problem by XML and microformats shouldn't be butting their  
heads in -- especially since most of the time full logs aren't  
available on the web (the uF log bot being a notable, and interesting,  

In the interest of full disclosure: I'm one of the developers of Adium  
-- we're looking into improving our message view, and copy/paste has  
been something that's plagued us for a while. I'm also one of the  
primary authors of an XML based log format that's been adopted by  
Adium, Gaim and Kopete.

Colin Barrett
Developer, Adium

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