[uf-discuss] Should microformat features (like rel-tag) have explicit scope?

Derrick Lyndon Pallas derrick at pallas.us
Wed Feb 7 20:30:31 PST 2007

Ryan King wrote:
> Actually I think it *is* quite reasonable to make parsers know about 
> every microformat.
This is not viable from a consumer perspective. New formats can 
immediately invalidate old parsers by changing the semantics the 
consumer expects without so much as an annotation in the definition of 
the affected format. (Incidentally, this is the same sort of problem 
Aspect Orientation has.) The decoupling of a format's semantics from the 
format definition has the additional effect that users may be struck by 
unexpected semantics. Formats like rel-license suffer from the same problem.

> Microformats are designed to be easy to publish, even when that means 
> that they're hard to parse. Simple economics show that it's much more 
> valuable to make publishing low-cost, because the increased in 
> published data will allow you to amortize the cost of writing and 
> maintaining parsers across more transactions.
This is a straw-man. It doesn't make them harder to publish or add to 
cost by adding the meta "uf" (or "scope" or whatever) to @class for top 
level formats, especially to ask users (or generators) who are USING a 
format to mark where the format begins because (presumably) they 
understand that particular format.

> Also, microformats are not designed to be generic or open ended, but 
> specific solutions to specific problems.
Certain features (like rel-tag or rel-license or rel-*) ARE being 
reused, in practice; it is bad engineering to limit their usefulness. 
There is a problem; I know because I'm a consumer. When an issue comes 
up every three months and is brushed off as "not an issue" every time, 
that is dishonest. Potential consumers have found it to be a problem in 
practice; and yet, the current consumers think it is not a problem 
because they don't see any need. Limiting the usefulness of something 
prevents results in the wild, which stunts future progress.

> Requiring authors to add markup in order to make rel-tag's scope 
> explicit makes it hard to publish the data and doesn't solve any real 
> problem.
Again, straw-man. Changing a string from "vcard" to "vcard uf" or 
"xfolkentry" to "xfolkentry uf" is NOT HARD for the author of a 
generator. On the other hand, it is much harder for a parser to 
magically know all the current (and future) microformats. It does solve 
real problems. Yes, there are other ways to solve the problem; in fact, 
I do solve the problem in an unelegant way. My real issue now is (as 
laid out above) the resistance to real discussion of the problem.

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