[uf-discuss] hThing microformat ... or design pattern

David Janes davidjanes at blogmatrix.com
Tue Nov 14 05:27:22 PST 2006

I'd like to broach the topic of a "thing" microformat (or design
pattern). I don't believe this is a "boiling the ocean" type of topic
and I'll outline what I've been thinking about and how it would be

(1) This would be a simple container "hthing" with all the elements
from vCard that would make sense -- fn, url and photo in particular;
geo and adr also for things that are in a particular place. I.e. this
proposal is fully based on hCard

(2) This would be the basis for future "thing" microformats. For
example, this morning a "wine" microformat was proposed. If there was
a hThing microformat, there would be a solid basis for just extending
that with information specific to the wine world; likewise, one could
see this being of great use for making car microformats or housing
microformats that would be used with hListing [1].

(3) This would fit nicely into existing microformats and may even be
an improvement. For example, in hReview [2] there's an explicit
container for the people and places being reviewed, but not for
things. By having such a container, we ensure that attributes of the
thing being reviewed associate with the thing rather than the review
(that is, a car being reviewed has 4-wheel drive, not the review has 4
wheel drive; although this is obvious to us it may not be obvious to a
machine reader)

(4) This may just be a design pattern -- that is, a template for
create new microformats in the future. We do see this pattern in use
in several places, including the microformats mentioned above.
However, I would argue that there's a real benefit for today's
parser's knowing there's a thing there, if if future progress means
the parser doesn't know what all the attributes are (just the  most
important ones)

(5) If it is a microformat, how we identify the type of thing is an
open question -- we could do it like phone number types in hCard or it
could be a new class element (or both). The type option is nice
because it means we can cover a lot of ground without creating new

(6) There's obviously lots of things that could be added to a hThing
microformat that are reusable across many types of things (just
sketching here):

<span class="hthing">
<span class="fn">
<span class="company">Rosemount Estates</a>
<span class="product">Diamond Label</a>
<span class="generic">Cabernet Sauvignon</a>
(<span class="type">wine</span>)

<span class="hthing">
<span class="fn">
<span class="company">Mazda</a>
<span class="product">Tribute</a>
<span class="generic">SUV</a>
(<span class="type">automobile</span>)

Regards, etc...

[1] http://microformats.org/wiki/hlisting
[2] http://microformats.org/wiki/hreview

More information about the microformats-discuss mailing list