[uf-discuss] Human and machine readable data format

Ben Ward lists at ben-ward.co.uk
Mon Jun 30 09:18:14 PDT 2008

On 30 Jun 2008, at 16:16, Jeremy Keith wrote:

> Now I'm not saying that this solution is perfect but it's by far the  
> best I've seen so far. It doesn't involve hiding data and it doesn't  
> involve stuffing data values in the class attribute. It *does* still  
> use the abbr element for a usage that is arguably semantically  
> dodgy. But any solution is going to involve some kind of compromise  
> to a greater or lesser degree and this is a level of compromise that  
> I personally find acceptable (it also maintains backwards  
> compatibility with existing publishing behaviour).

I disagree with this. I don't think it's acceptable for us to define  
microformats that break with the specified semantics of HTML. Yes,  
it's frustrating that HTML is spec'd the way it is, but the intent of  
the HTML title attribute is to be for human data. The intent of the  
ABBR element is for human expansions.

HTML4 made no provision for machine data in those nodes, and since  
HTML is the foundation on which we are building, I don't feel that we  
are entitled to shoehorn broken reinterpretations of those semantics  
to suit our needs.

Where an existing HTML element has the correct semantic to use, we  
should use it. Where an existing HTML element does not exist, we must  
resist using a ‘nearest fit’ when that ‘nearest fit’ is still  
incorrect. We must not limit the usefulness of the true, intended  
semantics of that element by stretched its semantics.

HTML has generic, semantic-less elements for when nothing else  
matches. We should use them.

Further, with specific regard to this proposal, whilst the examples  
being cited are closer to valid, human abbreviation, it does nothing  
to address the popular practice of ‘5 minutes ago’ and ‘this morning’  
or ‘today’ dates, which are not human, text abbreviations of a date,  
and the expanded form is not always contextually compatible with the  
abbreviated form.

datetime-design-pattern#issues <http://microformats.org/wiki/datetime-design-pattern#issues 
 > has these problems documented.


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