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revert request for http://html5.org/r/6783 dropping of time element, adding of data element

From: Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Oct 2011 12:59:02 -0700
Message-ID: <CA+ri+VmjU=u_MCuK6gEZGiFg5HG1FgdJwKvE5TwtJct3omN9=w@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
the editor of the HTML5 specification has made a change to the
specification that is not supported for good reasons (see below, source:

I therefore request a revert of this change http://html5.org/r/6783, so
that it can be further discussed and decided within the consensus based
HTML WG process.

[1] The time element, while being limited to a very specific use case, is
simple. Uptake so far has been good, as far as I can tell. There are many
blogs outside who already use this, and the Boston Globe has them, too:
http://bostonglobe.com/ Also, there is adoption by the microformats
community: http://microformats.org/wiki/html5#time_element

The default WordPress theme, 2011, uses <time> and pubdate on blog
<article>s http://twentyelevendemo.wordpress.com/

[2] The data element is just a container like div or span. The only
difference is the value attribute which could be made valid for (nearly)
every element, thus eliminating the need for data completely.

[3] It makes no sense to remove the pubdate attribute which was a fast and
convenient way to specify the publish date of an article. Now this
specification is much more complicated, you’d need either a complete hAtom
microformat or some kind of rather complex microdata. I think those two
won’t get any faster adoption than time, risking that the date of an
information might get lost in non-semantic code.

[4] <time> (or its precursor, <date>) has an obvious semantic (easy to
learn, easy to read). Because it's  restricted to dates and times, the
datetime attribute has a specific syntax that can be checked by a
validator. <data value=""> has no such built-in syntax, as it's for
arbitrary data, so can't be machine validated, leading to more erroneous
dates being published. Therefore, the reliability and thus the utility of
the information being communicated in machine-readable format diminishes.

[5] The spec for <data> says "A script loaded by the page (and thus privy
to the page's internal convention of marking up dates and times using the
data element) could scan through the page and look at all the data elements
therein to create an index of dates and times." (

This is a retrograde step from the <time> element that uses a wider
standard/ convention for dates, such as ISO 8601 because now the script
must be "privy to the page's internal convention".

6] <data> as an element is public data. data-* attributes are private (only
for scripts on a page, not external crawlers: "These attributes are not
intended for use by software that is independent of the site that uses the
This is highly confusing.

[7] The spec has an example of a sortable table. What does <data value="">
bring that <span data-value=""> doesn't?

with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG

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Received on Sunday, 30 October 2011 19:59:53 UTC

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