Re: What are the problems with IDML?

Daniel W. Connolly (connolly@w3.org)
Sun, 18 Aug 1996 00:07:51 -0400


Message-Id: <199608180407.AAA26375@anansi.w3.org>
To: donohoe@emerge.com
cc: www-html@w3.org, Alex Neth <aneth@emerge.com>, Bob Lord <lord@emerge.com>,
Subject: Re: What are the problems with IDML? 
In-reply-to: Your message of "Fri, 16 Aug 1996 16:04:09 +0800."
             <32141D69.277B@emerge.com> 
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 1996 00:07:51 -0400
From: "Daniel W. Connolly" <connolly@w3.org>

In message <32141D69.277B@emerge.com>, Doug Donohoe writes:
>By way of introduction, my name is Doug Donohoe, and I am a 
>member of the team that built Identify (http://www.identify.com).

Thanks for defending your proposal in a public forum.

>Before I begin, I'll just say this.  The question of whether or not
>to use META or define new tags is a technical, religious argument.

Huh? Technical and religious? Or one or the other?

It seems to me it's neither: it's a question of cost vs. benefit.

I believe that folks aren't using META because they don't think
it's worth the trouble. Most web pages are casual endeavors.
Folks who are willing to put even a little extra effort into
composing their pages have no trouble with META.


> Some of the questions IDML helps answer are:
>
>        1)  What langauge is this document written in?
>        2)  Where is the publisher located physically?
>        3)  What location is the information about?
>        4)  What type of entity published this information?
>        5)  What products are available for purchase here?
>        6)  What do those products cost and what currency are then in?
>        7)  What is this page about?
>
>These questions are *business questions* that META does not
>answer.

True in a way: there is no specified way to express
the type of entity that published the info. META is,
in this respect, underspecified. But the spec in no way
conflicts with the use of META for these purposes. e.g.:

	<meta name="pub-type" value="Consortium">

META allows folks to answer these questions.

Meta is extensible. You can do lots of things with it.
You can even institutionalize (aka standardize) some of them.

See, for example:

	A Proposed Convention for Embedding Metadata in HTML
	http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Search/9605-Indexing-Workshop/ReportOutcomes/S6Group2.html
	Reported by Stuart Weibel (weibel@oclc.org) 
	June 2, 1996


>We are simply pointing out that the use of META is low.  That leads
>to the question:  Why is it so low?  One possible answer is that META
>is not serving the purpose it aspires to.  Another is that non-technical
>people don't understand META and therefore don't use it.

I suggest you help teach them how to use META, rather than
doing something completely different.

>> WHAT?  The <HEAD> tags are not required.
>> <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2//EN">
>> <html>
>> <title>spew</title>
>> <LINK REV=MADE HREF="mailto:spider@livingston.com">
>> <META NAME="fu" CONTENT="bar">
>> <BODY>
>> etc deleted
>> 
>> That is perfectly valid!
>
>Not that this is pertinent to IDML as a whole, but the fact is
>that according to the W3C standard, META tags may only appear
>inside HEAD tags.  You can validate this for yourself at:
>
>   http://www.sandia.gov/sci_compute/elements.html#META

You're missing the point: the <meta> element in the example
above _is_ inside the HEAD element. The <head> and </head>
tags are implicit.

The sandia document won't help folks "validate" anything.

>All I ask is this:  Sit down and think what it would really take 
>to represent 100 products in a manner that a robot could understand.
>Our solution isn't the result of idle whim.  We spent a lot of time
>thinking, researching and prototyping possible solutions.  IDML is
>the result.

I suggest you reconsider how you could accomplish your goals
using META. See the above "proposed convention" as a starting
point.

>> See my points above:
>> 1. HEAD is ***NOT*** required.
>
>No HEAD, is not required (as I stated earlier).  But it is required 
>if you want to use META.

The head element is required if you want to use META. The head
element is required in every html document, for that matter. On
the other hand, not a single <head> TAG is required anywhere.

>  If people aren't using META you're right,
>they are not restricted from doing so.  But why don't they?  Because
>they get no value out of it.  At least with IDML, it offers the
>potential of returning its users some value (assuming other search
>engines utilize it -- which we encourage!).

I suspect that search engines will expand their support for META 
(ala the keywords,descriptions conventions that they use now)
long before they adopt support for IMDL. Hence, information providers
will derive more value from investing in META than IMDL.

Dan