[whatwg] on microdata in html5 (was on bibtex-in-html5)

Bruce D'Arcus bdarcus at gmail.com
Thu Jun 11 02:09:13 PDT 2009

On Wed, Jun 10, 2009 at 6:44 PM, Jonas Sicking<jonas at sicking.cc> wrote:


> However, as others, I'd prefer to see these things developed
> elsewhere. Mostly because the group of people with expertise in
> developing a better version of bibtex is not the people in this WG.

Exactly; it defeats the purpose of having an extensible metadata
system, whose virtue is to allow distributed vocabulary development.

> I do think it's important to show that microdata is able to express
> something like bibtex. And I do think that the discussion in the past
> weeks have been interesting since people haven't actually been finding
> problems in microdatas ability to express something like bibtex, but
> rather in the exact bibtex format itself.

This is a bit like triage, though.

My immediate concern has been this particular use case, and I've been
assuming : that the microdata proposal will be included in HTML5.

In a vacuum, I think microdata is fine technically.

In the context of an existing spec that covers the same use cases
(RDFa), I think it's creating unnecessary and unproductive

Just to go back to the use case I'm focusing on here, it puts metadata
producers and consumers in an awkward position of having to likely
support two different specs; means double work with no obvious
benefits. This is happening JUST as RDFa is starting to be implemented
by major players, and starting to build up a head of steam in terms of

And to put this in some context, the only reasonable technical point
that Ian has made in favor of throwing out RDFa and creating a new
spec is the prefix issue. But I have a really hard time seeing how
prefixes is so onerous a burden as to justify the costs (to the
WHATWG, and to metadata producers and consumers) of creating and
maintaining a new spec.

FWIW, some possibly relevant background from the OpenDocument experience:

To make a long story short, ODF 1.2 will have an extensible metadata
system based on RDF/XML (for in--package metadata) and a subset of
RDFa.(for embedded). Getting to this solution was a long and torturous
process, and the original proposal effectively forked RDFa by
requiring fully unqualified URIs for names. The technical reasons were
more-or-less the same as those that drove Ian to invent an entirely
new spec: that in a GUI environment where users are copy-and-pasting
content, dealing with prefixes was an additional burden on
implementers. In addition, people don't hand author ODF files, so
prefix have no authoring benefit.

In the end, though, I understand the ODF TC decided to include
prefixes, since implementers found the burdens largely theoretical
(OpenOffice should see an initial implementation in 3.2 I understand),
and because in general the group prefers to stick as closely to
existing specs as reasonable.

On predefined vocabularies, we thought about doing something similar
informally, but decided it was out-of-scope; better initially to put a
solid extensible system in place and let developers start working with

My work on the Bibliographic Ontology was in part done with that in
mind, though has the added benefit it can be repurposed for RDFa in


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