[microformats-discuss] Microformats for WSDL and WSIL

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar drernie at opendarwin.org
Tue Oct 18 10:07:46 PDT 2005

Hi Tom,

On Oct 18, 2005, at 6:30 AM, Tom Warne wrote:
> I missed the introduction thread a few weeks ago, so quickly, my name
> is Tom Warne and I am a master's student (CS) at Brigham Young
> University.  I became interested in microformats after my advisor
> (Phil Windley) introduced me to them.


> For my master's thesis, I am investigating the use of microformats to
> present WSDL [1], WSIL [2], and contact (hCard) information in an easy
> way for both humans and machines to consume.


> My thesis statement is:
> "Most organizations, rather than using heavyweight UDDI, simply create
> lists of the Web services that are available.  Often these lists are
> created in human readable form and are distributed around the
> organization's Web.  Microformatted WSIL and WSDL, together with
> hCards, allow organizations to create human readable lists of Web
> services in a way that also allows machines to find and bind to
> services.  These Web pages constitute a simple and novel method for
> machines (and humans) to find and use Web services."

Sounds more useful than mine: "The Life and Death of Strangely  
Charmed Mesons." :-)

> After reading about some of the REST-API microformat information, my
> proposal seems similar, except that I am focusing more on the standard
> WSDL/WSIL.  The microformats could (and possibly should) be similar.

Yes, a very interesting convergence.

> As I proceed, what suggestions does the community have?  Has anyone
> considered microformats for WSDL or WSIL?

Well, to be honest, there's two ways you can go about this:

;Blue Pill:
      Strive for a 100% faithful translation of WSDL and WSIL into  
HTML, using microformats (merely) as decoration.

;Red Pill:
       Dive into the 'zen' of microformats and discern the 80/20  
point where WSDL & WSIL are broadly useful, and paraphrase that into  
user-friendly microformats.

At the risk of being blunt, I have to say that WSDL and microformats  
are completely opposite ways of looking at the world.  At least in my  
experience, people have been writing nominally machine-readable WSDL  
and UDDI files for years that no machine is actually capable of  
understanding.  Has that changed?

The microformats approach is instead to figure out what people are  
*actually* doing today, then "profile" that in a way that makes it  
more rigorous and easy to 'reason about together.'   In other words,  
to cleanly solve existing problems rather than try to solve  
hypothetical future problems.

Frankly, I would *love* to have someone take a serious yet pragmatic  
approach to this problem, and actually look at what industry is doing  
*in practice* rather than what we *say* we're doing. :-) There's  
certainly room for far more rigor and and thoroughness than what  
Tantek and I are banging out here -- if it can be done without losing  
contact with coding reality.  That would be a thesis that  
implementors would actually *read*!

But, ultimately, of course, it comes down to what your thesis advisor  
is willing to support:


-- Ernie P.
(Caltech '95, Physics, if you care)

> [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/wsdl
> [2] http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/library/specification/ws- 
> wsilspec/
> Thanks,
> Tom Warne
> _______________________________________________
> microformats-discuss mailing list
> microformats-discuss at microformats.org
> http://microformats.org/mailman/listinfo/microformats-discuss

Ernest N. Prabhakar, Ph.D. <drernie at opendarwin.org>
Ex-Physicist, Marketing Weenie, and Dilettante Hacker
Probe-Hacker blog: http://www.opendarwin.org/~drernie/

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