[uf-discuss] re: HTML5 support

Scott Reynen scott at randomchaos.com
Mon Jul 19 17:34:05 PDT 2010

On Jul 19, 2010, at 2:31 AM, Philip Jägenstedt wrote:

>>> Out of curiosity what do you perceive are the different problems that
>>> microformats and microdata are trying to solve?
>> Microformats aim to "solve a specific problem."  Microdata aims to be compatible with RDF, which demands more generic semantics.
> Microdata doesn't go out of its way to be compatible with existing RDF vocabularies

Maybe not specific vocabularies (that's kind of my point), but RDF itself is clearly a major consideration.  There's a whole section on it:


> In any event there's very little "RDFness" over the syntax itself, the model is key-values, not triples.

It may not translate *well* to RDF, but I disagree that such translation isn't a goal.  The syntax isn't particularly important, though.  RDF is simply my sloppy shorthand for general purpose semantics.  Microformats, unlike both RDF and microdata, are explicitly not intended to be general purpose.  The microdata spec itself doesn't even mention specific vocabularies, whereas microformats are nothing *but* specific vocabularies.  It's no surprise that general purpose formats like microdata don't express specific vocabularies as succinctly as microformats.  It's also no surprise that microformats don't cover as much variety of data as general purpose formats.

>> Because of this, I doubt you'll ever see something like n optimization in microdata.
> This isn't a difference between microformats and microdata. The microdata vocabulary *had* the 'n' optimization, but it was removed after I showed that it didn't work for e.g. Chinese or Vietnamese.

Well, so much for that prediction.  Still, the removal suggests to me that it *is* a significant difference:

> I tried to learn from this community why it isn't a bad idea, but there wasn't much useful feedback.

I'd argue it is a bad idea in microdata, but not in microformats, because of the very distinction I'm trying to draw between the two.

n optimization isn't required.  It's a handy shorthand in some specific cases, but shouldn't be used universally, as it does't make sense everywhere.  hCard can handle Chinese names just fine with explicit given-name and family-name properties.  Nothing about n optimization makes this more difficult; n optimization only makes specific cases easier.  Making specific cases easier is the whole point of microformats, but it's not at all the point of microdata.


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