[whatwg] Trying to work out the problems solved by RDFa

Tab Atkins Jr. jackalmage at gmail.com
Fri Jan 9 11:35:10 PST 2009

On Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 5:46 AM, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke at gmx.de> wrote:
> Calogero Alex Baldacchino wrote:
>> ...
>> This is why I was thinking about somewhat "data-rdfa-about",
>> "data-rdfa-property", "data-rdfa-content" and so on, so that, for the
>> purposes of an RDFa processor working on top of HTML5 UAs (perhaps in a test
>> phase, if needed at all, of course), an element dataset would give access to
>> "rdfa-about", instead of just "about", that is using the prefix "rdfa-" as
>> acting as a namespace prefix in xml (hence, as if there were "rdfa:about"
>> instead of "data-rdfa-about" in the markup).
>> ...
> That clashed with the documented purpose of data-*.
> *If* we want to support RDFa, why not add the attributes the way they are
> already named???

Because the issue is that we don't yet know if we want to support
RDFa.  That's the whole point of this thread.  Nobody's given a useful
problem statement yet, so we can't evaluate whether there's a problem
we need to solve, or how we should solve it.

Alex's suggestion, while officially against spec, has the benefit of
allowing RDFa supporters to sort out their use cases through
experience.  That's the back door into the spec, after all; you don't
have to do as much work to formulate a problem statement if you can
point to large amounts of people hacking around a current lack, as
that's a pretty strong indicator that there *is* a problem needing to
be solved.  As an added benefit, the fact that there's already
multiple independent attempts at a solution gives us a wide pool of
experience to draw from in formulating the actual spec, so as to make
the use as easy as possible for authors.

(An example that comes to mind in this regard is rounded corners.
Usually you have to break semantics and put in junk elements to get
rounded corners on a flexible box.  This became so common that the
question of whether or not rounded corners were significant enough to
be added in CSS answered itself - people are trying hard to hack the
support in, so it's clearly something they want, and thus it's
worthwhile to spec a method (the border-radius property) to give them
it.  It solves a problem that authors, through their actions, made
extremely clear, and it does so in a way that is enormously simpler
99% of the time.  Win-win.)


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