[whatwg] proposal: extend <time> to markup durations

Bruce Lawson brucel at opera.com
Fri Jul 15 01:07:32 PDT 2011

On Fri, 15 Jul 2011 03:17:07 +0100, Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu>  

> On Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 14:51, Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage at gmail.com>  
> wrote:
>> On Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 2:36 PM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:

>>> I haven't studied the above yet, but I just wanted to bring up a trial
>>> balloon for a possible alternative solution: drop <time> and replace it
>>> with a generic solution.
>>> There are several use cases for <time>:
>>> A. Easier styling of dates and times from CSS.
>>> B. A way to mark up the publication date/time for an article (e.g. for
>>> conversion to Atom).
>>> C. A way to mark up machine-readable times and dates for use in
>>> Microformats or microdata.
>>> Use cases A and B do not seem to have much traction.

I think it's too early to tell whether there is "traction". I wonder  
whether any of the new semantics (article, nav, section, header etc) have  
much traction yet, simply because they don't yet have many obvious  
"consumers" - eg, browsers, crawlers, search engines [as far as we know]  
aren't making use of them yet. Also, developers are still understandably  
getting used to the more whizzbang aspects of HTML like canvas, video etc.

>>> Proposal: we dump use cases A and B, and pivot <time> on use case C,
>>> changing it to <data> and making it like the <abbr> for  
>>> machine-readable
>>> data, primarily for use by Microformats and HTML's microdata feature.

I disagree.

Opera has just begun to support <time> in Opera 11.50 (demo  
http://people.opera.com/miket/2011/5/time.html) [Disclosure: Opera is my  
employer but I'm speaking for myself here, not representing them].

We're seeing <time> used "In the wild", for example on recipes  
http://www.jennybristow.com/category/recipes/, reddit  
http://www.reddit.com/ ("submitted 5 hours ago"), http://smashsummit.com/,  
the default 2011 WordPress theme  
http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/twentyeleven/ and consequently many  
WordPress blogs

We also see schema.org encouraging the use of <time>  
http://schema.org/docs/gs.html#advanced_dates and given the importance of  
Bing, Yahoo and Google it;s fair to assume that web developers will adopt  
these patterns.

In my opinion, rather than dump <time>, we should consider changing the  
spec so the schema.org use-cases such as time periods

<time itemprop="cookTime" datetime="PT1H30M">1 1/2 hrs</time>

and "fuzzy" dates like 2011-11 for November 2011 are acceptable: there  
have been previous mails to the WG from wikipedia authors, genealogists  
and those working on museum websites stating that the utility of the  
current <time> element is diminished because of the requirement for  
precise dates which isn't always possible for historians.

Hang loose and stay groovy,

Bruce Lawson
www.brucelawson.co.uk (personal)

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