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Re: microformats, profiles, and taking back rel/class names [standardizedFieldValues-51]

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 15:44:43 -0400
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Cc: www-tag <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OF5712BFAD.17B9DFF7-ON8525731A.006A9A41-8525731A.006C36B4@lotus.com>

Dan Connolly wrote:

> I suppose the HTML WG has the right to "take back" @rel and 
> @class values, but I'm uneasy about it.

Me too, very uneasy.  Let me repeat here something that I said on the TAG 
call, originally intended in jest, but I'm now thinking it might be a 
serious proposal.  The current HTML 5 draft [1] says of the class 
attribute:

"Authors may use any value in the class attribute, but are encouraged to 
use the values that describe the nature of the content, rather than values 
that describe the desired presentation of the content."

Perhaps to be a true guide to the intended use of this attribute in the 
presence of technologies like microformats it should say:

"Authors may use any value in the class attribute, but are encouraged to 
use the values that describe the nature of the content, rather than values 
that describe the desired presentation of the content. 

NOTE: although this version of the HTML specification provides no specific 
meaning for any particular class attribute tokens, future versions of this 
specification, other specifications, or common public practice will likely 
assign preferred connotations to some.  (For example, at the time of this 
writing, the token 'vcard' is coming into common use for designating 
information about people, companies, organizations, and places. [2]) 
Because no means is here provided of identifying in advance which tokens 
will later be given such preferred meanings, there is a risk that any 
document using any value(s) for class attribute tokens will later prove 
incompatible with widely deployed conventions."

In short:  we know this is "broken" in this way.  Implicitly, we believe 
the benefits outweigh the risks, but we are at least warning you of the 
problem. 

Now, I personally am not at this point convinced that the benefits of 
retroactively assigning such universal meanings do outweigh the risks, but 
I am increasingly convinced that we should warn users if this is likely to 
happen.

Noah

[1] http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#classes
[2] http://microformats.org/wiki/hcard




--------------------------------------
Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
1-617-693-4036
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Received on Monday, 16 July 2007 19:44:42 GMT

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