[microformats-discuss] Re: Educationg Others

Danny Ayers danny.ayers at gmail.com
Tue Oct 4 15:58:29 PDT 2005

On 10/5/05, Ryan King <ryan at technorati.com> wrote:
> On Oct 4, 2005, at 2:01 PM, Scott Anderson wrote:
> > On 10/3/05, Ryan King <ryan at technorati.com> wrote:
> >> On Oct 3, 2005, at 6:47 PM, Scott Anderson wrote:

> > A content provider may want to add many instances of microformats
> > within a single XHTML document. There could be multiple instances of a
> > particular type of microformat in this document and some microformat
> > instances could be related to each other in some way. Say I want to
> > create a tool that understands the content in XHTML documents that
> > support microformats. As I see it, the only information I have
> > available for understanding the meaning of one of these microformat
> > instances is its "xhtml context"; where in the document the data
> > resides. This context could be interpreted by starting at the
> > microformat element and walking up its parent elements capturing their
> > name, class, and other attributes along the way.
> Um, this is still theoretical, not concrete. But let me try to answer
> anyway..
> Sure, "microformat instances" can relate to each other- they can be
> included within each other and be linked to by each other. Context
> may be important in some applications, but the context information
> necessary for each application will be different, and therefore
> determined by that particular application.

I think Scott's points are valid - it's easy enough to see how simple
examples of microformat data in documents can be interpreted, but what
happens when there's lots of interwoven data in a document 
(potentially from different microformats)? I don't think faith is much
help. The context information necessary for each application *may* be
different, but much of the idea behind standards is, well to
standardize, enable the sharing of information and hence enable
communication. Where any particular format draws the line between
shared language and per-app interpretation - that would be an
ecumenical matter.

As far as I can tell, and as Ryan's statement suggests, above a
certain level of complexity (as specified in the domain models),
basically microformats are stuffed. The interpretation (and any
context) does have to be decided at the application level, and clients
and servers will have to agree on that interpretation, rather than any
more generally shared data language. This is a weakness in
microformats as a general solution to conveying data in markup.

But I believe it's a fundamental mistake to view them as a general
solution to data transport in any case. There's a particular range of
tasks for which they are optimal on today's Web compared to other
formats. Another useful tool in the kit, no more no less.




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