hCard is a simple, open, distributed contact information format for people, companies, and organizations, which is suitable for embedding in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML. hCard is a 1:1 representation of the vCard standard (RFC2426) in XHTML, one of several open microformat standards.
Tantek Çelik, Technorati, Inc.
This specification is (C) 2004-2023 by the authors. However, the authors intend to submit (or already have submitted, see details in the spec) this specification to a standards body with a liberal copyright/licensing policy such as the GMPG, IETF, and/or W3C. Anyone wishing to contribute should read their copyright principles, policies and licenses (e.g. the GMPG Principles) and agree to them, including licensing of all contributions under all required licenses (e.g. CC-by 1.0 and later), before contributing.
This specification is subject to a royalty free patent policy, e.g. per the W3C Patent Policy, and IETF RFC3667 & RFC3668.
Inspiration and Acknowledgments
Thanks to: my good friend Vadim who introduced me to vCard many years ago, and if I'd only paid more attention then, perhaps I could have helped a lot of people avoid wasting a lot of time reinventing various standards wheels.
The vCard standard (RFC2426), has been broadly interoperably implemented (e.g. Apple's "Address Book" application built into MacOSX).
In addition, many bloggers identify themselves by name and discuss their friends and family. With just a tad bit of structure, bloggers can discuss people in their blog(s) in such a way that spiders and other aggregators can retrieve this information, automatically convert them to vCards, and use them in any vCard application or service.
This specification introduces the hCard format, which is a 1:1 representation of the aforementioned vCard standard, in semantic XHTML. Bloggers can both embed vCards directly in their web pages, and style them with CSS to make them appear as desired. In addition, hCard enables applications to retrieve information about such vCards directly from web pages without having to reference a separate file.
Semantic XHTML Design Principles
Note: the Semantic XHTML Design Principles were written primarily within the context of developing hCard and hCalendar, thus it may be easier to understand these principles in the context of the hCard design methodology (i.e. read that first). Tantek
XHTML is built on XML, and thus XHTML based formats can be used not only for convenient display presentation, but also for general purpose data exchange. In many ways, XHTML based formats exemplify the best of both HTML and XML worlds. However, when building XHTML based formats, it helps to have a guiding set of principles.
- Reuse the schema (names, objects, properties, values, types, hierarchies, constraints) as much as possible from pre-existing, established, well-supported standards by reference. Avoid restating constraints expressed in the source standard. Informative mentions are ok.
- For types with multiple components, use nested elements with class names equivalent to the names of the components.
- Plural components are made singular, and thus multiple nested elements are used to represent multiple text values that are comma-delimited.
- Use the most accurately precise semantic XHTML building block for each object etc.
- Otherwise use a generic structural element (e.g.
<div>), or the appropriate contextual element (e.g. an
- Use class names based on names from the original schema, unless the semantic XHTML building block precisely represents that part of the original schema. If names in the source schema are case-insensitive, then use an all lowercase equivalent. Components names implicit in prose (rather than explicit in the defined schema) should also use lowercase equivalents for ease of use. Spaces in component names become dash '-' characters.
- Finally, if the format of the data according to the original schema is too long and/or not human-friendly, use
<abbr>instead of a generic structural element, and place the literal data into the 'title' attribute (where abbr expansions go), and the more brief and human readable equivalent into the element itself. Further informative explanation of this use of
<abbr>: Human vs. ISO8601 dates problem solved
The vCard standard (RFC2426) forms the basis of hCard.
The basic format of hCard is to use vCard object/property names in lower-case for class names, and to map the nesting of vCard objects directly into nested XHTML elements.
More Semantic Equivalents
However, for some properties there is a more semantic equivalent, and therefore they get special treatment, e.g.:
URLin vCard becomes
<a class="url" href="...">...</a>inside the element with
<a class="email" href="mailto:...">...</a>
PHOTOin vCard becomes
<img class="photo" src="..." alt="Photo of ..." />
Singular vs. Plural Properties
For properties which are singular (e.g. "N" and "FN"), the first descendant element with that class should take effect, any others being ignored.
For properties which can be plural (e.g. "TEL"), each class instance should create a instance of that property. Plural properties with subtypes (e.g. TEL with WORK, HOME, CELL) can be optimized to share a common element for the property itself, with each instance of subtype being an appropriately classed descendant of the property element.
Human vs. Machine readable
<abbr> element is used for a property, then the '
title' attribute of the
<abbr> element is the value of the property, instead of the contents of the element, which instead provide a human presentable version of the value.
Similarly, if an
<img> element is used for one or more properties, it must be treated as follows:
- For the "PHOTO" property and any other property that takes a URL as its value, the
src="..."attribute provides the property value.
- For other properties, the
alt' attribute is the value of the property.
vCard has several properties which either do not make sense on, or are already implied within the context of a web page. This section explains what to (not) do with them.
- NAME, PROFILE, SOURCE, PRODID properties as defined in Sections 2.1.2, 2.1.3, 2.1.4, 3.6.3 of RFC 2426. Content publishers MUST NOT use these properties in their hCards, and as such, hCard consumers/parsers MUST IGNORE these properties if they are found within an hCard. Instead. hCard to vCard converters SHOULD use the title of the page where the hCard is found (e.g. the
<title>element in (X)HTML documents) to construct the NAME property, MAY output a PROFILE value of "
VCARD" per RFC 2426, SHOULD use the URL of the page where the hCard is found to construct the SOURCE property (e.g. perhaps as a parameter to URL that converts hCards to vCards), for an output vCard stream (e.g. a .vcf file).
Implied "N" Optimization
Although vCard requires that the "N" property be present, the authors of the vCard specification (RFC 2426) themselves do not include "N" properties in their vCards near the end of the spec (p.38). This apparent contradiction can be resolved by simply allowing the "FN" property to imply "N" property values in typical cases provided in the spec. We do so explicitly in hCard.
If the value of the "FN" property is exactly two words (separated by whitespace.), and there is no explicit "N" property, then the "N" property is inferred from the "FN" property. For "FN"s with either one word or three or more, then the author MUST explicitly markup the "N".
- The content of "FN" is broken into two "words" separated by whitespace.
- The first word of the "FN" is interpreted as the "Given Name" for the "N" property.
- The second/last word of the "FN" is interpreted as the "Family Name" for the "N" property.
- Exception: If the first word ends in a "," comma OR if the second word is a single character (optionally followed by a period "."), then the first word (minus the comma at the end if any) is interpreted as the "Family Name" and the second word is interpreted as the "Given Name".
This allows simplification in the typical case of people stating their firstname space lastname.
Implied "organization-name" Optimization
The "ORG" property has two subproperties, organization-name and organization-unit. Very often authors only publish the organization-name. Thus if an "ORG" property has no "organization-name" inside it, then its entire contents MUST be treated as the "organization-name".
See hCard Profile for the XMDP profile of hCard.
Here is a sample vCard:
BEGIN:VCARD VERSION:3.0 N:Çelik;Tantek FN:Tantek Çelik URL:http://tantek.com ORG:Technorati END:VCARD
and an equivalent in hCard with various elements optimized appropriately. See hCard Example 1 for the derivation.
<div class="vcard"> <a class="url fn" href="http://tantek.com/"> Tantek Çelik </a> <div class="org">Technorati</div> </div>
This hCard might be displayed as::
Note: The version information is unnecessary in hCard markup directly since the version will be defined by the profile of hCard that is used/referred to in the 'profile' attribute of the <head> element.
Examples in the wild
This section is informative.
The following sites have published hCards, and thus are a great place to start for anyone looking for examples "in the wild" to try parsing, indexing, organizing etc. If you have an hCard on your own page, feel free to add it to the top of this list. Once the list grows too big, we'll make a separate wiki page.
- Keri Henare has marked up his contact info page with hCard.
- Phil Windley has published his hCard.
- Cori Schlegel has published a full hCard on his contact page and an abbreviated version (linked to the full version) in the sidebar of his blog.
- Cinema Treasures uses hCard to markup venue information for 10,000+ movie theaters.
- Andy Hume uses the hcard format to mark-up the names and URLs of commentors on his blog.
- Steven Ametjan has published his hCard on his about page.
- EVDB, the Events and Venues Database, publishes all venue detail pages with embedded hCards.
- Paul Schreiber's Sunnyvale House Concerts site publishes hCards for upcoming artists, as well as an hCard for the page itself. In addition the Past Shows page contains hCards for all past artists.
- Rob Mientjes has published his hCard on his about page.
- Gerard Braad has published an example on his profile page that is almost consistent with his original vCard file.
- Don Crowley has published his hCard as well as a nifty hCard button:
- Technorati's About page lists their Media Contact, and their Press page also lists their Press Contact, both as inline hCards.
- Tantek's Thoughts includes an inline author hCard at the bottom of the page.
This section is informative.
The following implementations have been developed which either generate or parse hCards. If you have an hCard implementation, feel free to add it to the top of this list. Once the list grows too big, we'll make a separate wiki page.
- Andrew D. Hume has built a system (Wordpress plugin?) for using hcards in your blog to represent people leaving comments on blog posts.
- The hCard creator is a very simple, yet illustrative, open source user interface / form / script which creates an hCard in real-time as you type in a set of contact information.
- rfc2629.xslt now attempts to generate hCard information (RFC2629 is an XML format for authoring RFCs and Internet Drafts, see example document)
- iChat buddy list to hCards - Open source AppleScript to automatically convert one's buddy list in the MacOSX iChat AIM client into a valid XHTML 1.0 Strict list of hCards.
- X2V is a bookmarklet that parses hCard and produces a .vcf (vCard) stream. Note: needs to be updated as the spec is refined
- OpenPsa 2.x CRM application uses hCard for all person listings. The widget is reusable across Midgard CMS
- hCard term introduced and defined on the Web, 20040930
- FOO Camp 2004 Simple Semantic Formats presentation, 20040910
- Contributed from http://developers.technorati.com/wiki/hCard.
- XHTML 1.1
Work in progress
This specification is a work in progress. As additional aspects are discussed, understood, and written, they will be added. There is a separate document where we are keeping our brainstorms and other explorations relating to hCard:
- If you have any questions about hCard, check the hCard FAQ, and if you don't find answers, add your questions!
- Please add any issues with the specification to the separate hCard issues document.