[uf-discuss] What to do when a microformat doesn't quite fit?

Angus McIntyre angus at pobox.com
Mon Mar 20 19:26:51 PST 2006

I'm in the process of developing a PHP library for managing 
collections of news links. The library is intended for generating RSS 
or Atom feeds, and also for formatting lists of news articles for use 
in web pages.

You can see one example of its use at:


A second can be seen at


(please excuse the '-REMOVETHIS-' in the link above, but that site is 
still heavily under development and I'm not yet ready to have it 
crawled by anything that happens to visit the microformats.org 

These lists of articles - which are essentially 'feeds' - seem like 
an obvious match for hAtom, so I've tried to make the library produce 
hAtom. However, there are some problems.

First, hAtom demands an author - either at the entry level, or at the 
feed level - and in these two use cases, there's no obvious author. 
In the case of the Inca Trail collection, the articles linked to 
sometimes have authors and sometimes don't. I could put myself as the 
'author' of the collection as a whole, but I'm not sure that makes 
strict sense.

Second, hAtom demands 'entry-content' and makes 'entry-summary' 
optional. In the first example, there's neither content nor summary 
(because that's how the client wants it). In the second, the text is 
really more in the nature of a summary than content, but content is 
the required item.

Finally, the articles all have a 'source' (i.e. the publication where 
they appeared), but I'm unclear on how to represent that in hAtom.

What's the best course of action in cases like these? My use-case 
doesn't exactly fit hAtom because it doesn't meet the mandatory 
'author' and 'content' requirements. But at the same time, it looks 
as if hAtom fits better than anything else. Should I

   a. Force my listings into the hAtom mold, by calling the summaries
      'content' (and putting in an empty content block in the first case),
      and adding an author somehow, or
   b. Avoid using hAtom at all, on the grounds that if I can't meet the
      requirements, I shouldn't deceive innocent robots by promising them
      hAtom and not delivering?



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