[whatwg] RDFa is to structured data, like canvas is to bitmap and SVG is to vector

Shelley Powers shelleyp at burningbird.net
Sun Jan 18 08:15:34 PST 2009

Anne van Kesteren wrote:
> On Sun, 18 Jan 2009 16:22:40 +0100, Shelley Powers 
> <shelleyp at burningbird.net> wrote:
>> My apologies for not responding sooner to this thread. You see, one 
>> of the WhatWG working group members thought it would be fun to add a 
>> comment to my Stop Justifying RDF and RDFa web post, which caused the 
>> page to break. I am using XHTML at my site, because I want to 
>> incorporate inline SVG, in addition to RDFa. An unfortunate 
>> consequence of XHTML is its less than forgiving nature regarding 
>> playful pranks such as this.
>> I'm assuming the WhatWG member thought the act was clever. It was, 
>> indeed. Three people emailed me to let me know the post was breaking 
>> while loading the page in a browser, and I made sure to note that 
>> such breakage was courtesy of a WhatWG member, who decided that 
>> perhaps I should just shut up, here and at my site, about the 
>> Important Work people(?) here are doing.
>> Of course, the person only highlighted why it is so important that 
>> something such as RDFa, and SVG, and MathML, get a home in HTML5. 
>> XHTML is hard to support when you're allowing comments and external 
>> input. Typically my filters will catch the accidental input of crappy 
>> markup, but not the intentional. Not yet. I'm not an exerpt at 
>> markup, but I know more than the average person. And the average 
>> person most likely doesn't have my commitment, either.
> http://annevankesteren.nl/2009/01/xml-sunday shows the commentor (who 
> by the way seems to be on your side in this debate) simply forgot to 
> escape <self-closed /> and then WordPress somehow messed up in an 
> attempt to fix it. I don't think anyone tries to make you "shut up".
> (And if we, the evil WHATWG cabal, wanted to break your site, we 
> would've asked Philip` ;-))
You're not seeing all of the markup that caused problems, Anne. The 
intention was to crash the post. However, I shouldn't have assumed that 
the person who inserted the markup that caused the problems is a WhatWG 
member. My apologies.

Regardless of intent, it does demonstrate, again, why it is important 
for RDFa, SVG, and MathML find a home in HTML5. XHTML is a very 
difficult markup to support when you're allowing outside input. The 
tools do not do a good job of supporting XHTML, and hence the average 
person finds such failures to be intimidating, and will immediately 
return to HTML. Heck, I find the yellow screen of death to be unnerving 
myself. It's only my interest in inline SVG and RDFa, and basically 
distributed extensibility, that keeps me trying.

And regardless of the fact that I jumped to conclusions about WhatWG 
membership, I do not believe I was inaccurate with the earlier part of 
this email. Sam started a new thread in the discussion about the issues 
of namespace and how, perhaps we could find a way to work the issues 
through with RDFa. My god, I use RDFa in my pages, and they load fine 
with any browser, including IE. I have to believe its incorporation into 
HTML5 is not the daunting effort that others make it seem to be.'

However, the debate ended as soon as Ian re-asserted his authority.


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