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

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Sun Jan 11 09:13:58 PST 2009

On 11/1/09 16:52, Calogero Alex Baldacchino wrote:

> Well, that's a chance, of course, but that's *not* RDFa as specified by
> W3C; for instance, @property is specified as accepting _only_ CURIEs

Good point; I hadn't spotted that.

> It's the same with every possible existing custom (non-standard)
> attributes and elements out there, since there is no standard for them,
> and instead data-* has been created;

Emphatically, data-* has been created for private use data encoding 
(basically for scripting purposes) not as a replacement for the existing 
practices of adding new elements and attributes to HTML without going 
through W3C/WHATWG.

Existing custom attributes intended for use by scripts (e.g. "action" in 
Gmail and Yahoo! Mail), have a direct migration path open for them (i.e. 
to "data-action" or a HTML5-native feature). Proprietary attributes 
intended for use by user agents (e.g. "autocomplete"), on the other 
hand, must be adopted by HTML5 if they are not to be remain non-conforming.

> it's also the same for accesskey,
> actually, since it's not in current spec (whereas it was in HTML4).

I suspect the behavior for "accesskey" will ultimately be defined by the 
spec, whether or not it is made conforming.

> After all, support for unknown attributes/elements has never been a
> standard "de jure", but more of a quirk

Depends what you mean by "support" I guess.

> I really don't see the problem if a *custom* convention became widely
> accepted and reused by other people

Then you I think you don't agree with the fundamental design principle 
of the "data-*" attribute. The theory is that extensions to HTML benefit 
from going through a community process like WHATWG or W3C, and blessing 
extension points encourages people to circumvent that process, with the 
result that browsers have to support poorly designed features in order 
to have an interoperable web.

> I really can't get, right now, why it should be different, for instance,
> from the case of a freely reusable widget using a custom data model
> based on private data-* attributes inserted by people in thousands of
> websites (the widget with relitive metadata, I mean), then liked by
> other people and reused in different contexts (the same data model based
> on data-*, now)

Reuse of "data-*" by DHTML widgets would not impose any additional 
requirements on user agents, so it would be fine from the perspective 
elaborated above. It wouldn't change the language by the back door.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

More information about the whatwg mailing list