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hNews FAQ

This page is for documenting Q&A about hNews.


  1. In order to use item-license in an hNews entry, should the root contain three class names of "hnews hentry item"? -- paraphrased from Miles De Feyter 09 October, 2009
    • At this point, that is correct (following the licensing-brainstorming concept and guidance). I expect we'll see changes around item-license (it's still just brainstorming), but for the time being, the third class name "item" is needed.

Additional Topics

(moved from the discussion page at

Where can I read the current draft for hNews?

It can be found here.

Does hNews replace NewsML, NewsML-G2, ATOM or RSS?

No. -- Stuart Myles

OK, So How Does hNews relate to NewsML, NewsML-G2, ATOM and RSS?

The idea with hNews is to add some machine-readable news-specific semantics to display-ready HTML. I see NewsML [1], NewsML-G2 [2], ATOM [3] and RSS [4] as ways of enveloping content, to provide structure and metadata. (Each has its own merits and drawbacks). They can all be used to convey HTML and therefore any of them would be an ideal way to deliver hNews. There may be some overlap in the news metadata that is marked up (e.g. you can indicate a headline in NewsML and within hNews). -- Stuart Myles

Does hNews Replace NITF?

NITF (News Industry Text Format [5]) is an XML format for defining the content and structure of articles. Whereas hNews is ready-for-display, NITF needs to be translated into a display format (e.g. HTML, XHTML, WML, PDF, etc.). This is one of NITF's strengths - you can turn it into virtually any other display format (including print!). NITF also has a much richer set of metadata fields that can be expressed [6]. AP plans to continue to use NITF (alongside a number of other formats), even as we roll out hNews. -- Stuart Myles (In the interests of full disclosure - I represent AP to the IPTC and am the chairman of the IPTC's NITF Working Group).

Why not RDFa?

A couple of people have asked me whether the goals of hNews be met using RDFa [7] instead? RDFa is "a thin layer of markup you can add to your web pages that makes them understandable for machines as well as people... By adding it, browsers, search engines, and other software can understand more about the pages, and in so doing offer more services or better results for the user." (quote from [8]).

I agree that RDFa would be another, equally valid way to add the hNews metadata into an (X)HTML page. I'm not an RDFa expert, but I wonder if it would be possible to use both hNews and RDFa at the same time? If anyone has done something similar to hNews with RDFa, then please let us know. -- Stuart Myles

Teams at the BBC are currently considering marking up their news content as RDF available as a seperate resource, rather than in the pages themselves. It might prove sensible to do some work with GRDDL to make it possible to exchange hNews content into whatever ontology they end up working with. -- Mark Ng

Why not use microdata ?

The WHATWG is considering introducing a "microdata" syntax into HTML 5 [9]. This would seem to be a valid way of achieving something similar to hNews - although not without controversy. See, for example the discussions at [10]. We look forward to a bit more clarity around this, including whether microdata will only work in HTML 5 onwards or will it be possible to retrofit it into current web pages. -- Stuart Myles

Where is the tracking piece in hNews?

hNews is a way to add some machine-readable news semantics to HTML. If you want to follow the hNews spec, you are not required to - or prevented from - adding any kind of tracking device, such as a "web bug" [11]. -- Stuart Myles

Is hNews a microformat?

Adactio proposed that this was erroneously asserted, and modified the draft. In fact, our intent is to submit this as a microformat draft on the microformat site (as should be evident from the use of templates, to facilitate a quick move), assuming that it is acceptable to the community as such. If it is not, then at that time we will modify the language appropriately. -- Jonathan Malek

But until a format has been through the microformats process, it is *not* a microformat. It does you no favours to mis-label a markup pattern as a microformat prematurely ...if anything, doing so will damage your standing with the microformats community who may view it as opportunistic coattail-grabbing. -- Adactio

I completely agree, Jeremy. I was happy to see the changes to the that you made, and I think those make sense. I'd like to keep this draft intact in terms of intent, namely to submit this as a draft on the microformat site. -- Jonathan Malek

But even if this were on the microformats wiki, you still wouldn't refer to hNews as a microformat until it has passed the microformats process. If this document is supposed to be a draft text for a page on the microformats wiki, then I don't understand why it has been published at a public URL. As long it *is* a public URL, it shouldn't contain any misleading falsehoods.

I would encourage you to try the microformats process; namely to propose a format for syndicating news content, look at existing patterns and discussg what to do next. Creating an entire spec and *then* bringing it to the microformats community is putting the cart before the horse. State the problem case, not the solution. That way, others can help you in drafting a format. -- Adactio

Jeremy, I went through the process steps back in May of last year, and worked through what I could within the constraints I have. Be assured that we will faithfully pursue the microformats process, now that this effort has seen the light of day. I would point you to numerous other pages on the web that have done the same thing, and then let you consider whether you should revert your changes. For example:,, just to name a few. -- Jonathan Malek

Yes, those examples you point to are examples of formats *incorrectly* labelling formats as microformats. There are some others out there as well. -- Adactio

I had a chance to speak with Tantek at the microformatsdevcamp about retrofitting some of the work from hnews into hatom and/or a specific news microformat. I'll be carrying that work out on the hatom-brainstorming page. I'm not sure how we best move the current work across to the microformats wiki wholesale. -- Mark Ng