[uf-new] Microformat for implementing RFC2119

Paul Wilkins paul_wilkins at xtra.co.nz
Thu Aug 16 03:56:23 PDT 2007

Brian Suda wrote:
> i was thinking about this off and on the last few days, and this is
> probably an excellent example of the <dfn> element.
> <dfn title="This word, or the terms 'REQUIRED' or 'SHALL', mean that
> the definition is an absolute requirement of the
> specification.">MUST</dfn>
> <dfn title="This word, or the adjective 'OPTIONAL', mean that an item
> is truly optional.">MAY</dfn>

I am presuming that the dfn element should not be around every instance 
of the term, and that the dfn element should be only around the defining 
instance of the enclosed term, as is mentioned in the HTML spec.

If the dfn element is on only the defining term, it may be difficult for 
people to find that defining term and make use of its title attribute.

While the title attribute could be used to provide information about the 
term, it's more useful to expose that information in the text itself, 
instead of in the title attribute.

The XHTML 2 specs from 
http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml2/mod-text.html#sec_9.4. shows DFN being used 
as follows:

<p role="definition">
     An <dfn id="def-acronym">acronym</dfn> is a word
     formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a
     set phrase or series of words.

The definition of the "definition" role is given as:
"The contents of the associated element represent a definition (e.g., of 
a term or concept). If there is a dfn element within the contents (as 
defined in [XHTMLMOD]), then that represents the term being defined."

So an XHTML 2 example of a part of RFC2119 could go something like:

<li role="definition"><dfn>MUST</dfn> This word, or the terms 
&ldquo;<dfn>REQUIRED</dfn>&rdquo; or&ldquo;<dfn>SHALL</dfn>&rdquo;, mean 
that the definition is an absolute requirement of the specification.</li>

The textual contents of the li element then becomes the definition of 
the terms MUST, REQUIRED and SHALL.

The role="definition" part should be discarded for versions earlier than 

Paul Wilkins

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