[uf-discuss] Standardized Representation of Microformats in PHP/other languages

Francois Lafortune flafortune at praizedmedia.com
Thu Apr 3 08:11:52 PST 2008

Derrick Lyndon Pallas wrote:
> Ciaran McNulty wrote:
>> As a tangential note from the discussion about a standardised JSON
>> format, it would be useful to be able to represent uF data as
>> datastructures in other programming languages.
> There seems to be a lot of confusion here about the differences 
> between syntax, structure, and semantics. What is the difference between
>    {"given-name": "John", "family-name": "Doe"}
>    {"family-name": "Doe","given-name": "John"}
> There is a potential structural difference (e.g., in PHP, where 
> associative arrays have order) but the syntax is the same and 
> (depending on the application) the semantics are probably the same. 
> What's the difference between
>    {"given-name": "John", "family-name": "Doe"}
>    { "given-name" => "John", "family-name" => "Doe" }
> There is only a syntactic difference, in that the former is Javascript 
> and the latter is Ruby. Both the structure and the semantics are 
> identical, that is: create a mapping such that the string "given-name" 
> associates with "John", and the string "family-name" associates with 
> "Doe".
> The point is that different representations can have the same 
> structure and semantics. In this case, it seems like a mistake to talk 
> about a representational mapping. As far as I understood, microformats 
> is primarily concerned about adding semantic value specifically to 
> HTML. This is done with well-defined structure that translates (as 
> defined by microformats) into the syntax of HTML.
> So then, what is the difference between
>    {"given-name": "John", "family-name": "Doe"}
>    <span class="given-name">John</span><span 
> class="family-name">Doe</span>
> Primarily a syntactic one. Structurally they are the same and 
> semantically they are both hCard fragments. A more fundamental 
> difference, however, is that the latter is the primary syntax; 
> conversion from HTML to JSON will be lossy. Furthermore, the semantics 
> are now twice filtered: the converter has to be as up-to-snuff on the 
> currently defined classes as the consuming application itself. 
> Finally, you lose many of the benefits of hypertext: the include 
> pattern no longer works, URIs become strings, and it isn't clear how 
> embedded microformats should be handled.
> The only real way to share microformatted information is to pass it 
> around in an HTML container, directly or as a URL. Defining a generic 
> conversion is a mistake. Instead, we should focus on semantics and let 
> applications define their own internal representations.
> ~D
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I may be pretty quiet on this mailing list, but I second this. I 
especially like the last two sentences.

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