[uf-discuss] A Simple Extension for Microformat Table Support

Edward Benson eob at csail.mit.edu
Tue May 19 08:01:43 PDT 2009

Hi Microformatters,

Our research group has been building several wiki- and blog-based
tools for which microformat support would be a great fit. While
looking at how we might integrate it, we came upon a suggestion for
how microformats might incorporate a cleaner representation when used
with tables.

The fact that the <COL /> element of a table doesn't actually contain
anything makes it impossible (under the current rules) to stash
meaningful information there from the microformat perspective. This
means that we can put structured information across each row of a
table, but not down the columns, leaving us to repeat microformat
annotations across each row. Here is an example:

  <TR class="vcard"><TD class="fn">Thomas Jefferson</TD><TD
  <TR class="vcard"><TD class="fn">John Adams</TD><TD

What if instead, when parsing the DOM to extract structured
information, whenever a <TD> element is encountered, the corresponding
<COL> element is treated as if it were the DOM parent of the <TR>
element for that cell. This would allow us to stash information both
on the rows *and* the columns of the table, allowing for a much more
compact representation:

  <COL class="fn" /><COL class="title" />
  <TR class="vcard"><TD>Thomas Jefferson</TD><TD>President</TD></TR>
  <TR class="vcard"><TD>John Adams</TD><TD>President</TD></TR>

Let us know what you think. It makes tables fit much more naturally,
from our personal aesthetic point of view. As such, it may make it
much easier for template writers (think blog themes, Wikipedia Info
Boxes, etc) to incorporate into their templates and content.

Ted Benson & David Karger

MIT CSAIL Haystack

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