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<h2> Q&A </h2>
<h2> Q&A </h2>
=== What's the point? ===
=== What is the point of hCard ===
''This vCard code is all over the place here at Microformats, but they're just links to me. So what's the point, why should I the end user care?''
''What is the point of hCard to people, businesses, etc.?''

=== How does Microformat help the end user? ===
=== How is hCard different than just links ===
''What's the different for the End User between having the vCard code and just putting the info like Name and Email there? It looks the exact same on browers, there's nothing making it look or act differently.''
''How is hCard different than just links?''
=== How does hCard help users ==  
''How does hCard help users, e.g. how does it improve the user experience in browsers more than just providing name and email as text?''

=== How do I convert hCards to vCards for download on a site ===
=== How do I convert hCards to vCards for download on a site ===

Revision as of 03:42, 28 April 2009

hCard FAQ

This page is for documenting Q&A about hCard. If you have a new question to ask, please consider first asking your question on the microformats irc channel (preferably) or the microformats-discuss mailing list. New questions and answers should be added to the end of the list. If you have a new question but not an answer, please add it to hCard issues.

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What is the point of hCard

What is the point of hCard to people, businesses, etc.?

How is hCard different than just links

How is hCard different than just links?

= How does hCard help users

How does hCard help users, e.g. how does it improve the user experience in browsers more than just providing name and email as text?

How do I convert hCards to vCards for download on a site

Is there any live way to convert hCards to vCards for download on a site? In other words, I have added hCard to my page, but i'd like my users to have a 'download vCard' button.

  • Short answer, use the Technorati Contacts Feed service in a hyperlink, e.g.:
<a href="http://feeds.technorati.com/contacts/YOURURLHERE">download vCard</a>

Consider using more user-friendly text as well, like Add to Address Book. There are many examples of this in the hCard Examples in the Wild page. Note that the Technorati Contacts Feed service is based on the open source XSLT "X2V" by Brian Suda and others. If you want, you can install X2V yourself and run your own local converter.

Should I use ADDRESS for hCards

Should I use the more semantic <address> element for my hCards?

  • The <address> element is more semantic, but it is too specifically semantic for most hCard uses. The poorly named <address> element really means <contact-info-for-this-web-page>. The HTML4 definition of the ADDRESS element says it is used "to supply contact information for a document or a major part of a document such as a form." Therefore, <address> should be used for an hCard ONLY IF that hCard represents the contact information for the page or major part thereof. One example of such a usage is on Tantek's blog. Another way of saying this is the following two statements: Every <address> on a page SHOULD be an hCard. But not every hCard should be an <address>.
    In short, DO NOT use <address> to markup physical/street/mailing addresses in general. Only use it to markup the contact information for the page (or major part thereof), and when doing so, use it to markup the entire contact information (via <address class="vcard">), not just a physical/street/mailing address for the contact.

For more on different types of significant hCards for pages, and semantics distinctions among them, see hcards-and-pages.

Why is adr property necessary

What is the point of class="adr" when we have the <address> element?.- 2006-12-04 asked by Joshie Surber.

  • First, <address> DOES NOT MEAN "address", please read previous FAQ answer first and thoroughly! Second, "adr" is about physical addresses, whereas <address> is meant specifically for the contact information for the page or major part thereof. They are totally different.

Why is url property necessary

Why is it necessary to put class name "url" on URL elements in the hCard when those hyperlinks already start with "http://", and that is enough to distinguish them from email links?

  • The classname "url" is necessary to explicitly distinguish hyperlinks that are URL elements for the hCard, from other hyperlinks that may be related to the item or otherwise in the same containing element but should not be included in the hCard. Common links that may appear in the document but not be contact information are action related links (download data, add to friends list, etc.) contact hyperlinks (email, internal site messaging, autodialers), as well as hyperlinks to photos, or other random hyperlinks that happen to be inside the hCard.

I have a problem with serving a vCard vcf file

I have a problem with serving a vCard .vcf file that has the info from my /contact/ page from my website. E.g. browsers just display the text of the vCard .vcf file instead of downloading it.

The easiest thing to do and support (especially with more and more vCard consumers out there with their own quirks) is to:

  1. Add hCard markup to your /contact/ page where you already have your contact info visible in the content. See also the hCard creator which is a useful tool for learning how hCard markup works.
  2. Change the link to your vCard .vcf file to point to: http://feeds.technorati.com/contacts/http://yourwebsite.example.com/contact/

This way you won't have to worry about duplicate data either - just update the content on your contact page marked up in hCard and anyone that gets your vCard will automatically get your updated info without you having to worry about updating separate file.

How do I support an existing vCard URL

I already have a vCard that I keep up-to-date. I don't want to change any references to it because it might break something else, what can I do?

  • You can use .HTACCESS to rewrite links to your vCard to a webservice that converts a page to the vCard dynamically, to do this you need to add something similar to your .htaccess file
RewriteRule ^path/to/old.vcf http://suda.co.uk/projects/X2V/get-vcard.php\?uri=http://example.com/hCard_encoded.htm&filename=old.vcf

Now you shouldn't have to do anything else, all links to the "old.vcf" are redirected to the webservice and will return a new vCard that is dynamially generated from your page.

I think that using 'Redirect' is better than using mod_rewrite (is not enabled on some hosts) --Robert Bachmann

Redirect /path/to/old.vcf http://suda.co.uk/projects/X2V/get-vcard.php?uri=http://example.com/hCard_encoded.htm&filename=old.vcf

What are plural hCard properties

Is there a list of all hCard properties which can be plural?
Is there a list of all the properties which can have multiple instances?

Old previous answer:

  • We have avoided *duplicating* (or providing a shortcut for) the "can this property occur multiple times or not" deliberately in order to avoid repeating a constraint from RFC 2426 vCard, and thus potentially getting it wrong. Here is the way to determine whether or not a particular property can occur multiple times (is a plural property / may have multiple instances or values).
  • Check the hCard XMDP profile for the property definition.
  • If the property definition references a plural form in RFC 2426 (e.g. honorific-suffix references honorific suffixes), then the property is a plural property.
  • Else go check the referenced section in RFC 2426 which should state explicitly whether or not the property is plural or singular.
  • Else (if RFC 2426 is *not* explicit) then the property is plural.

What does FN stand for

What does FN stand for?

  • FN stands for "Formatted Name." From Section 3.1.1 of the RFC:

Type purpose: To specify the formatted text corresponding to the name of the object the vCard represents.

  • The reasoning behind this seems to be that, while N gives us a structured name, FN gives us the human-readable, formatted name which is assembled from its structured parts in a culturally dependant way.

How is gender represented

How do you represent gender in hCard?

  • There is no GENDER property in vCard RFC2426. hCard is following the schema from vCard for interoperability reasons. It is possible to represent gender implicitly in the honorific-prefix field, e.g. Mr. for male, and Ms. for female:
<span class="honorific-prefix">Mr.</span>


<span class="honorific-prefix">Ms.</span>

This approach does have the limitation that "Mr." and "Ms." (or "Miss"/ "Mrs.") may conflict with a higher-ranking, gender-neutral honorific, such as "Dr." or "Rev." for the person, as it is unusual to refer to someone as "Mr. Dr." or "Mrs. Rev." for example. See hcard-issues.

Note that there is also a page on MSDN that mentions vCard and "gender". Not sure what to make of that. Note also Google search for "vCard.Gender".

Gender could be represented with a genealogical microformat, but that seems like overkill.

Instead, you could use tags/categories to tag people's hCards with their gender, "male", "female", or any other tag you feel is appropriate. See gender identity for more on the topic.

See also vcard-suggestions#Gender.

Can a hCard contain extra elements

Is it OK for an hCard node to contain extra elements?

  • Yes, parsers will ignore anything they don't understand.

Can a GEO be inferred from an ADR in an hCard

Can I automatically add GEO from an address when transforming an hCard to vCard if it is not present?

  • No, an address represents an area of land which is a polygon (or perhaps a space in a building which is a polyhedron), whereas a GEO only represents a single point. They are not equivalent.

X2V does not convert email with name as plain text

X2V doesn't convert my email address correctly, it is in the form href="FirstName LastName <Email@example.com>"

  • While that form of email address works for some programs such as outlook, it is not a valid mailto: value (see RFC2368) the FirstName and LastName should be omitted.

One possible valid hCard markup would be:

<span class="vcard">
  <span class="fn">Firstname Lastname</span>
 &lt;<a class="email" href="mailto:Email@example.com">Email@example.com</a>&gt;

This might be displayed as:

Firstname Lastname <email@example.com>

What hCard properties are required

What properties are required in an hCard?

  • The only required properties are 'fn' (the formatted name) and 'n' (the structured name), but 'n' can under certain circumstances be inferred from the fn property. See the Implied N Optimization for details. See also hcard-cheatsheet.

Does N property require all sub-properties

If I use the 'n' property, do I have to use ALL of the sub-properties?

  • No, You can use as many or as few as you need to mark-up the name, but at a minimum you should at least use the 'given-name' and 'family-name' sub-properties if at all possible. If all you have is a nickname/handle/userid, then consider simply marking it up as an 'fn' property and taking advantage of the Implied "nickname" Optimization. See also hcard-cheatsheet.

Do FN and N need to be on same element

Do the 'fn' and 'n' properties have to be on the same element?

  • No, you can have two separate elements, for example:
<p class="vcard">My name is
<span class="n">
<span class="honorific-prefix">Mr.</span>
<span class="given-name">John</span>
<span class="additional-name">Q</span>
<span class="family-name">Public</span>
but you can just call me
<span class="fn">Johnny</span>

Can FN be in a backwards order and N still extract the information correctly

Can FN be in a backwards order and N still extract the information correctly?

  • Yes, the FN value will take the text string as is, but N will look to the sub-properties and re-order then when converting them to vCard.
<span class="fn n"><span class="family-name">Smith</span>,  <span

The FN value would be "Smith, John", but the N value would correctly extract "John" as the given name, and "Smith" as the family name. This is useful for some cultures which reverse the name order.

The same applies to the sub-properties of addresses. You can order post-code before locality, or vice versa depending on cultural norms.

How do you convert a vCard to an hCard

Is there a way to convert a vCard to an hCard?

  • There is no canonical conversion from a vCard to an hCard because you can construct an hCard in many different ways while expressing the same semantics. If you would like to recommend a suggested template hCard to use when displaying vCards in a browser, please propose it to the mailing list.

Are descendant elements recognized in a microformat

Are descendants recognized in a microformat property?

  • Yes, for example:
<span class="country-name">United States <small>of</small> America</span>

The output would be "United States of America".

Do properties like TEL use all descendants

Do properties like TEL use all descendants? e.g.

<span class="tel"><span class="type">Home</span>:<span class="value">+1.234.567.8900</span></span>

Shouldn't that output be "TEL:Home: +1.234.567.8900"?

  • No. class="value" is used to denote a sub-element which is used for the value of the property. See Value excerpting for more details.

Can you have multiple value elements

Can you have multiple class="value" elements inside a property and what happens to them?

  • Sure, for example:

<span class="tel"><span class="type">Home</span>:<span class="value">+1</span>.<span class="value">234</span>.<span class="value">567</span>.<span class="value">8900</span></span>
would output: "+12345678900".

Can you mix properties and the root class name

Can you put properties on the same element as the root class for a microformat? E.g. class="vcard fn"?

  • No, for several reasons:
    • It breaks the simple contextual CSS selector rule for finding and styling property values: .rootname .propertyname which will make it more difficult to write scoped CSS for the properties. For more on why this is important see the microformats FAQ regarding class interactions.
    • It will result in more confusion for parsers which may be parsing nested microformats.

Can you mix a property and its sub-properties

Can singular sub-properties be mixed with parents?

  • No, all sub-properties MUST be on elements inside their parents.

Can you use query strings on email

What happened to the Query String on my email address?

  • Query strings are removed from email addresses because they are not valid for importing to vCards

Are ADR and TEL types case sensitive

Is the list of possible types for an ADR and TEL case sensitive?

  • No, enumerated values are case-insensitive, therefore Home, home, HOME, etc. are all equivalent.

How does GEO work with ABBR

What happens to the GEO sub-properties when GEO is used with ABBR?

  • The GEO property can be represented two different ways:

<span class="geo">
<span class="latitude">123.45</span>
<span class="longitude">67.89</span>

<abbr class="geo" title="123.45;67.89">My House</abbr>

When used with an <abbr> element the latitude and longitude are separated by a semicolon.

Why does hCard use vcard as the root class name

hCard maps the properties and values of the vCard standard (RFC2426), hence the use of the vcard class name inside the HTML markup. More background on the reasons behind that decision here: hCard Parsing: Root Class Name.

How do you mark up a phone extension

How do I mark up a phone extension in hCard? There doesn't seem to be a way to declare a telephone extension in the vCard RFC 2426 spec, the suggested way is currently:

<span class="tel">
    <span class="type">work</span>: <span class="value">800 555-1212 x 1234</span>

RFC 3966 suggests that an extension be indicated with ";ext=" for example:

<span class="tel">
    <span class="type">work</span>: <span class="value">800 555-1212;ext=1234</span>

although that is more relevant when used as a URI:

<span class="tel">
    <span class="type">work</span>: <a class="value" href="tel:+18005551212;ext=1234">800 555-1212;ext=1234</a>

ITU-T Recommendation E.123 1.6 specifies the use of the word "extension" or abbreviation thereof:

   Telephone International +22 607 123 4567 ext. 876

The above example may be better as:

<span class="tel">
    <span class="type">work</span>: <a class="value" href="tel:+18005551212;ext=1234">800 555-1212 ext. 1234</a>

How do you encode IM accounts

How do I encode my IM account in hCard?

Can you hCard the deceased

How do you make an hCard for the deceased?

  • As you normally would, and add the tag "deceased".
  • vCards and thus hCard does not have a date-of-death property. You may wish to explore the biographical or genealogy-formats microformats efforts.
  • See also vcard-suggestions#Deceased

Any plans for xparams

Are there plans to include x-parameters in future versions of hCard?

  • No. The problem is that each of these x-parameters are vendor specific and are not part of the RFC. Secondly, there is no way to be 100% sure that 'x-foobar' is not just a content-specific HTML class name that the publisher is using for CSS styling.

What is a word in implied optimizations

What constitutes a "word" for the purpose of 'implied-n optimization'?

  • "N" can be implied from "FN" when the content of "FN" is broken into two "words" separated by whitespace. For this purpose, a "word" is any sequence of non-whitespace characters including but not limited to low- and high-range alphanumerics and punctuation. A "word" can be characterised by the following regular expression:

How do you create non English title attributes

My website is not in English and I want the title attributes (sown as "tooltips", in many browsers) to be in my native language

  • Properties such as class="type" require an enumerated list of English words. It is possible to use your native language for the displayed title, but still use the English work for the class="type" without it being shown.
<abbr class="type" title="home">
 <span title="[your native word for home here]">
  to my home

Having an span with a title attribute inside the abbr element will only display the title on the span, where you have the text (your native word for home here).

How do you add categories to an hCard

How do you add categories to an hCard?

  • The short answer is, use class="category" and rel="tag", e.g. if you wanted to tag someone with the category "microformats", you would put this in their hCard:
<a class="category" rel="tag" 

Why not put type for tel or adr into class

Why not put the 'type' value for the 'tel' or 'adr' properties into the class name? E.g. <span class="fax">(415) 555-1212</span>

  • This was actually initially attempted and rejected because it constituted storage of content in the class attribute, which is an anti-design-pattern. The "type" in this case is essentially a "tag" on the phone number, which is human readable content, and thus should be visible, rather than hidden in an invisible class attribute. In addition, polluting the class attribute with content text makes it significantly harder to use it for the intended use, which is to add/refine semantics of existing element names.

How do I markup multiple addresses

How do I markup separate addresses, like for home and work?

  • You need two elements with class name "adr" and the appropriate sub-properties. E.g. derived from hCard examples:
<div class="adr">
 <span class="type">home</span> address:
 <div class="street-address">123 Main Street</div>
 <span class="locality">Any Town</span>, <span class="region">CA</span>, 
 <span class="postal-code">91921-1234</span>
<div class="adr">
 <span class="type">work</span> address:
 <div class="street-address">789 Main Street</div>
 <span class="locality">Any Town</span>, <span class="region">CA</span>, 
 <span class="postal-code">91921-1234</span>

As a result, note that each element with class name "adr" is treated as a separate address with its own subproperties and values.

Why is IMG alt not being picked up

I have my name in an <img> alt attribute and it is not being picked up by hCard tools. Why not?

You can use an <img> alt value to specify any text (i.e. not URL) property value by placing the class name directly on the <img> element itself. Other element alternatives are documented in hCard: Human vs. Machine readable.

Here is an example of doing it WRONG and the corrected RIGHT way. White space added for readability:


<span class="vcard">
 <a class="url fn photo" href="http://tantek.com">
  <img src="http://tantek.com/icon80.jpg" alt="Tantek Çelik" />


Note the moving of the class names "fn" and "photo" from the <a> to the <img>

<span class="vcard">
 <a class="url" href="http://tantek.com">
  <img class="fn photo" src="http://tantek.com/icon80.jpg" alt="Tantek Çelik" />

Some have suggested having the IMG alt (and other such textual alternatives) always be part of surrounding property values, and while this may initially seem appealing, this was deliberately rejected at the creation of hCard to give publishers more control.

In addition all too often there is "garbage" (or just extra unwanted text) in alt attributes for a variety of publisher reasons, and that extraneous text would pollute otherwise clean property values in numerous existing sites.

Thus only if the publisher explicitly wants the text from the alt attribute do they add the respective class value to get it.

Finally, it is simpler and more predictable for publishers if they know that for images and other such URL related elements (a, object, etc.) that whether they are specifying a URL property (like "email", "photo", "url", etc.) or a text property (like "fn", "nickname", etc.) in either case directly specifying the property on the element is the way to do it.

How do I mark up each ADR with a GEO

I have an hCard with multiple addresses. How do I mark-up each ADR with a GEO?

  • Short answer: don't. See also Can a GEO be inferred from an ADR in an hCard.
  • Longer: There are two reasons not to mark-up an ADR with a GEO.
    • First and most importantly, ADR and GEO don't mean the same thing, therefore you MUST NOT simply mark-up an ADR with a GEO.
    • Second, even if you did consider them to be the same information, you shouldn't do so for DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) reasons. Duplicating information increases the probability inconsistent information due to one copy being updated without the other being updated.
  • Details: ADR and GEO represent different semantics, an ADR representing an address of the hCard object (thus hCards may have multiple ADRs), whereas a GEO if present represents the physical location of the hCard object (thus an hCard may have at most a single GEO). In addition, they represent a different data types, i.e. an ADR represents an area of land which is a polygon (or perhaps a space in a building which is a polyhedron), whereas a GEO only represents a single point.

    Attempting to duplicate an ADR with a GEO property with nearby/representative coordinates (e.g. as you might derive by using an online mapping service) is also undesirable from the DRY perspective for all the usual duplicates getting out of sync problems.

How do I markup an unstructured location

If I have a location field which is unstructured, how do I mark that up? I might have a user typing "San Francisco" or "San Francisco, CA" or "USA", etc.

  • Short answer: use the "label" property and also the "adr" property without subproperties (for now). E.g.

<span class="label adr">San Francisco, CA</span>

  • Longer:
    1. The "label" property works well to markup an unstructured location, but keep in mind that only one can be provided (in practice, we have yet to find a service that publishes *multiple* unstructured addresses for a person or organization - if they're going to go to the trouble of publishing multiple addresses, they usually also do the additional minimal work of structuring them).
    2. Using the "adr" property (without any subproperties) at least indicates the semantic that there *may be* address components in the data, and indicating even that semantic is better than indicating no semantic. While current hCard parsers will likely not extract any adr information from such markup (though they will get the unstructured "label", which is better than nothing), there is some brainstorming going on regarding how to possibly try to extract structure from an unstructured "adr", and thus future parsers may be able to make more use of such markup.

Partial Dates or A Gentleman Never Asks

  • I want to mark up someone's date of birth, but don't know which year they were born in.
  • I want to mark up someone's date of birth, but only know which year they were born in.

The date design pattern recommends using ISO 8601 dates, compatible with W3CDTF or RFC 3339 (which are both subsets of ISO 8601). Fortunately W3CDTF allows for partial dates. For example:

  • <abbr class="bday" title="2008-09">Sept 2008</abbr>
  • <abbr class="bday" title="2008">2008</abbr>

Such dates are supported by most microformat parsers. ISO 8601 also allows for dates to be provided without the year (and even without the month):

  • <abbr class="bday" title="--09-01">1 Sept</abbr>
  • <abbr class="bday" title="---01">the first of the month</abbr>

These dates are not compatible with W3CDTF or RFC 3339, and have less broad-ranging support in microformat parsers. It should also be noted that the vCard specification requires dates to include years, so even if your microformat parser supports one of these formats, it would probably have to fill in a dummy year when providing a vCard output.

Related Pages

The hCard specification is a work in progress. As additional aspects are discussed, understood, and written, they will be added. These thoughts, issues, and questions are kept in separate pages.