[whatwg] foreign attributes Re: several messages about XML syntax and HTML5

Elias Torres elias at torrez.us
Mon Dec 4 23:04:54 PST 2006

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Tue, 5 Dec 2006, Elias Torres wrote:
>> I work at IBM/Lotus and are in the process of shipping a series of 
>> internal components used by IBM employees as Lotus products. We have 
>> tried using microformats as an extension mechanism for HTML but found 
>> several limitations that make us look onto other things for 
>> extensibility. We are hoping HTML5 will address some of the needs we 
>> find to be extremely important in order for us to include structured 
>> information in HTML.
>> One of the first problems we have with microformats is that even with 
>> small structures like vCards, maintaining uf parsing code is not as 
>> straightforward as writing the implementing the simple cases. Many have 
>> tried to create extensibility mechanism for customers to submit new 
>> microformats, but have ended up with solutions that require JS code to 
>> be submitted in order to properly parse any number of customer-defined 
>> microformats. Microformat work very well on clearly specified cases, but 
>> do breakdown (in my opinion) when everyone wants their own microformat.
>> I'm currently participating in the RDFa task force but IBM would rather
>> not have to wait for XHTML2 to have a valid/official solution to this
>> problem.
> I don't really understand what the problem you are describing is... could 
> you provide some examples? (In particular, it's not clear to me why RDFa 
> would be easier to handle than HTML class attributes.)

In one of the products, we need two things: one to specify our own piece
of structure data (call it microformat, call it RDFa data). Our first
problem is parsing microformats. We must somehow explain in prose how to
parse our specific microformats just like hCard/hEvent do or do it via
GRDDL (XSLT transform) or custom JavaScript parsing code. If you can
read in the uF wiki [1] there's really not much guidance on how to parse
one or all of them. RDFa on the other hand gives a generic parsing
mechanism to extract properties (hopefully as a JSON object) for our
value-added JS libraries to enhance the UI of our applications.
Secondly, we need our customers to safely express details about objects
also via HTML using a metadata approach that allows this, currently
RDFa, without worrying about class names collisions. I guess in a
nutshell what has attracted the attention of several of our developers
is the ability to have a single parser (as RDFa defines such mechanism)
to extract JSON/RDF representations of structured data in the HTML. The
goal ultimately is to have those object specified by customers grafted
into other UIs in our systems in an extensible manner.
> Implementation experience such as yours is very useful, the more you can 
> tell us about your experiences the better (especially concrete examples).
> Cheers,

I hope this gets a bit more concrete, but as I check around tomorrow at
work, I'll try to get more details. Thanks.


[1] http://microformats.org/wiki/parsing-microformats

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