[html5] <article> for ecommerce product?

Jukka K. Korpela jukka.k.korpela at kolumbus.fi
Wed Jul 20 03:54:22 PDT 2011

20.07.2011 12:26, Bruce Lawson wrote:

> I'm not a clever spec-writery person, but I did an HTML5 Doctor
> simplequiz about how to mark up products
> http://html5doctor.com/html5-simplequiz-1/

Somehow, the statement "please DON’T USE ANGLE BRACKETS in your 
comments" raises questions about credibility of the page. (Can't they 
handle "<" in input??) The page gives three alternatives for markup of 
proct information, without disclosing anything except that the info has 
a heading, and asks which is best. The alternatives do not include the 
most common and most simple option with just headings, implying that 
content between two headings is associated with the first heading.

 > and concluded that <article> was the right man for the job

The question is: What do you expect to achieve by adding <article> (or 
any other) markup to the common approach? Browsers do not do anything 
with <article> by default, and explicit styling is a little more wrok 
than styling <div> (as IE needs to be told about <article> in 
JavaScript), and no search engines have been reported to pay any attention.

So this is rather theoretical at present, or let us say future-oriented 
with a lot of uncertainties: If and when browsers, search engines, and 
other software will start doing something on <article> based on its 
specification, will that be good or bad for product info items marked up 
as <article>? For product _news_, the answer would be "good, if 
<article> is good for anything". For product _info_, it's not quite as 
clear but pretty clear: as long as the product info can be treated as a 
piece of information that can be copied and pasted at will without 
distorting things or making things obscure, the answer is "good".

This means, like for any <article> candidate, that the contents should 
constitute something that is understandable and meaningful out of 
context. It should not imply any of the surrounding content as 
background. Rather, it's something you could print out and hand out or 
send to a prospective customer. This is because <article> elements 
should be _expected_ to be handled that way - torn away from a document 
and copied elsewhere as such (or sometimes as annotated).

> I can't remember who said it to me, but I find it helps enormously not
> to think of article as newspaper articles, but think of it as a synonym
> for "item".

If this is so, maybe the name should be <item>. Or maybe not. It's not 
really an item in the sense that a list consists of items. An item in a 
list is normally articleable, as it often makes sense only as a item of 
a list. Similarly, a product info page might contain elements so that 
each element describes one product but not as standalone, just in that 
specific context (e.g., some product characteristics are given about a 
group of characters, then there is for each specific product a list of 
its particular features or deviations from the general characteristics).

Maybe it would be useful to add something like the following:

An article element may also consist of product information, place 
description, or data about a person, as long as it is understandable and 
meaningful even when taken out of the context.

Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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