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Revision as of 21:50, 11 July 2007 by AndyMabbett (talk | contribs) (hcard-brainstorming#Post_vCard_additions)
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vCard suggestions

As a result of experience using hCard to markup people, organizations, and contact information in general on real world websites, we have discovered a few aspects of RFC 2426 vCard that could be improved. Thus we are documenting suggestions for improving vCard here as we find them, organized by RFC 2426 section number for improvements to current properties, and a "new" section for new properties.

Tantek Çelik, Andy Mabbett

Suggestions for Existing Properties

Suggestions for improvement could include new features and other such more major changes to the specification, organized under headings that reflect RFC 2426 vCard section numbers and heading. For documentation of errors, corrections, errata for vCard, please see vCard errata.

3.3.1 TEL Type Definition

  • The "type" for "TEL" lacks a "textphone" option (for the devices used by, e.g., people who are deaf or have speech difficulties. Example: Birmingham City Council (303 1119). It may be good to consider adding a "textphone" value to the "type" for "TEL".
    • +0 Tantek: I think a rethinking of the taxonomy of TEL types is merited, but I am uncertain whether it is worth growing the existing limited taxonomy or instead permitting user defined TEL types and thus allowing for natural evolution of a folksonomy of TEL types.
    • +1 Andy Mabbett: There are a limited number of types. Note also the cell vs. mobile issue.
  • The "type" for "TEL" lacks a "freephone" option. It may be good to consider adding a "freephone" value to the "type" for "TEL". Usually freephone numbers are not accessible from outside the country so it could help parsers with something?

Suggestions for New Properties



  • There is no way to mark up a person as being deceased - either by a "deceased" flag or date-of-death. A workaround: add the tag/category "deceased". See also mailing list post on tagging for 'deceased'
    • -1 Tantek: I think tags/categories are good enough for now.
    • +1 Andy Mabbett: Tags are often not appropriate, as per the cited e-mail. DoD is more specific (and often used in real life biographies and obituaries e.g van Gogh on Wikipedia). Note also Wikipedia's Persondata which aligns very closely with hCard, but has additional date and place of birth & death fields. Andy Mabbett 13:06, 28 Jan 2007 (PST)
    • +1 for date-of-death Ciaran McNulty: Date-of-death is useful information in some applications (specifically genealogy).
    • -1 for 'deceased' flag Ciaran McNulty: Tagging can cover this sort of binary flag.

Date of Death evidence

Instant Messaging

Subject differentiator

The use of "fn" and "fn org" differentiate between hCards for people and for other entities, but we perhaps need some further differentiator, between, say, organisations and venues (including buildings, governmental divisions, waypoints, etc.) at a level of granularity to be determined. Andy Mabbett 14:30, 11 Jul 2007 (PDT)


Suggestions for handling encodings

The vCard standard specifies that US-ASCII is assumed to be the encoding in the absence of a MIME content type header or a CHARSET parameter that indicates otherwise. This was an unfortunate choice. vCard .vcf files stored on a local filesystem do not contain a MIME header and the only way to reliably use an encoding other than ASCII is to tag each field with the "CHARSET=" label. This makes the vCard stream more complicated than necessary. This could be simplified by a revision of the standard that specifies UTF-8 as the default encoding. This could work safely with existing vCard .vcf files, which do not contain a MIME content header. The first vCard VERSION field would be the same encoded as either ASCII or UTF-8, so readers could easily determine which encoding to default to.

Furthermore, those creating vCard readers should be encouraged to support vCard .vcf files that begin with a UTF-8 BOM sequence. If the first three bytes of the file are 0xEF 0xBB 0xBF, the text file is UTF-8 encoded, and the vCard reader should assume UTF-8 is the default. Unfortunately many readers today fail to recognize the UTF-8 BOM and view the file as a corrupt vCard.


On 2006-11-24, Paul Hoffman of the Internet Mail Consortium, responsible for the development and promotion the vCard standard, wrote in response to an e-mail from Andy Mabbett informing him of this web page:

There has been almost no interest in revising the vCard standard. This is due to lack of momentum, not the lack of good suggestions.

See Also