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Brainstorming for hProduct Microformat

This is a brainstorm for the hProduct microformat. See also examples of hProduct.


The Problem

There are numerous ways to publish product information on the web, but nothing is stanardized. It would be useful to have standardized product information on the web for creating mash-up applications which could

Elements that come up often in practice

Examples of elements that might be included because they seem to come up often in user- and CMS-generated product publishing, include the following:

Base Elements


Being that so many products in the world have specific charachteristics or properties, we thought it might be wise to create a means of standardizing the listing of that information, setting the stage for possible subformats of hProduct. This could be done by setting up property value pairs or groups using a CLASS of "p-v". It would be possible to offer a few means of doing this.

Natural language property-value association

<p class="p-v">The <span class="property">dimensions</span> of this book are 
  <span class="value">6½"(<abbr title="width">W</abbr>) × 
  12"(<abbr title="height">H</abbr>) ×
  1¾"(<abbr title="depth">D</abbr>)</span></p>

List property-value association (pairs)

  <li class="p-v">
    <span class="property">Mileage</span>: 
    <em class="value">34,787</em>
  <li class="p-v">
    <span class="property">Year</span>: 
    <em class="value">2006</em>
  <li class="p-v">
    <span class="property">Exterior Color</span>: 
    <em class="value">Burgundy</em>
  <li class="p-v">
    <span class="property">Body Style</span>: 
    <em class="value">Hatchback</em>

List property-value association (groups)

Note: as a DL contains semantic property-value pairs/groups, setting a CLASS of "p-v" should be enough (reducing extra markup).

<dl class="p-v">
  <dd>Burgundy (Exterior)</dd>
  <dd>Tan (Interior)</dd>

Non-visible property names

We have considered the possibility of allowing property names to be invisible to users by allowing the addition of the property name as a class immediately following the "propery" CLASS keyword:

<ul class="p-v">
  <li class="property mileage">34,787</li>
  <li class="property year">2006</li>
  <li class="property color-exterior">Burgundy</li>
  <li class="property body-style>Hatchback</li>

Parsing would be a bit trickier, but from the perspective of someone marking up the document, it is pretty simple and straightforward.

Suggested Additions

Isn't this duplicating hListing and hReview?

No, hProduct would not seek to compete with hListing or hReview, it simply aims to enhance them. In either of these microformats, the item could easily contain the hProduct. Also, hProduct is the more appropriate place for Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), which is not likely to be the final price of the product being listed. The actual price/sale price/final price should be solely in the domain of hListing.

Random Thoughts

Please add your thoughts & feelings below. If you are interested in getting involved in the development of this microformat. Please contact aaron [at] easy-designs [dot] net and/or join the microformats mailing list.


Wouldn't the release date of the product be a good addition? I'm writing product re- and previews. I use hReviews to give my opinion about the product, but there's now way to indicate that the product is or is not in stores yet. As far as i can see, the release date is a usefull product attribute, not only usefull in combination with other Microformats, but also for indicating the "age" of a product.

Aaron Gustafson

Actual price, savings, discounts, etc. should be part of hListing instead of hProduct. MSRP (suggested retail price) should be part of the hProduct, however.

Andy Mabbett

Please see my proposal, on the mailing list -- Andy Mabbett 09:08, 19 Nov 2006 (PST)

Adam Craven

hProduct will definitely be one of the largest microformats.

What about specifications of products, which is important for data aggregation. To categories every type and variation of a product would be mad. So how should the hurdle be crossed, if at all?

The nearest related uF is the citation format, although it isn't overly suited.

Stephen Mulcahy

As with microformats in general maybe the approach to take to specifications of products is to let people who need/want them start specifying the ones they are interested in - we don't need an exhaustive universe of potential things categorised. See my posting for some other comments here - , in particular note that I think the hard part of this is defining the specifications of individual products. I'm happy to start on the laptop one ... it would be good to have some laptop vendor on board but maybe its too soon for anyone to be interested.

product-brainstorming was last modified: Wednesday, December 31st, 1969