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[Bug 15304] Nested <META> tags in <HEAD>

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2011 22:40:20 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1RdrJE-0007Vs-47@jessica.w3.org>
https://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=15304

--- Comment #8 from Evan Sandhaus <evan@nytimes.com> 2011-12-22 22:40:18 UTC ---
Thanks everybody for the great feedback!  I'd like to address a few of your
points, and then suggest a possible approach for moving forwards.

---
Response to feedback
---

>Microdata is inspired by microformats though and the main idea behind is that the actual data is visible.

Although I realize Microformats and Microdata were conceived primarily as a
mechanism for attaching semantic meaning to visible information, my experience
in the publishing industry has convinced me that it is often desirable and
perhaps even necessary to embed non-visible metadata.  

For example, 'wordCount' is a very useful property.  With it, one could  limit
one's search to articles that are greater or less than a specified number of
words.  Including this a visible metadata, however, presents a user interface
design challenge.  I think it would be unnatural for every article on a news
website to include something along the lines of "this article contains 1,138
words."  And because many publishers paginate articles across multiple HTML
documents, this value cannot be reliably inferred from analysis of the body.

So, sadly, it is sometimes necessary for online publishers to include
non-visible metadata.

> If you hide it all it is likely to go out of date fast because nobody
notices it is wrong.

Certainly a reasonable concern, but in my experience, publishers tend to render
most page components from a production database that is reliably updated.  And
most of the fields in such databases do get used for some production purpose.
For instance, every article on nytimes.com is catalogued as being about certain
people, places, organizations and descriptors.  Although this data is not used
for much on the individual article pages, it is used to power numerous features
on nytimes.com and is assiduously maintained by our production staff.  We
currently include this data in our meta tags on every article page, and
although it is not visible it is carefully maintained. 

> Make the metadata tag of EPUB part of HTML5.

This is a fascinating idea, and certainly worth exploring, but I'm not clear on
how this would solves this problem.  My (very) cursory exploration of this tag
suggests that it comes with its own data model and child attributes.  Am I
right about this or would it be possible to use this tag to include arbitary
metadata?

> Define a way to embed and/or reference XMP (ISO 16684-1), the industry
standard XML/RDF-based metadata scheme used in PDF, JPEG, PNG, etc.

The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), to which I am a The
NYT delegate, is very invested in XMP and supports its ongoing development. 
However, I am concerned, that since XMP already comes with pre existing
schemata for expressing various types of metadata, it may lack the flexibility
to be a general framework for nesting complex HTML 5 Microdata objects in the
<HEAD> element.

---
Proposed approach to moving forward:
---

In my work as an NYT Software Architect and as delegate to The IPTC, I have
come to believe that it is necessary for organizations implementing HTML 5
Microdata to have the ability to nest complex objects in the <HEAD> element. 
The HTML 5 proposal as its stands does not seem to allow for this.

A solution to this problem would be to create or alter a tag such that it can
fill the role defined below as [nestable].

<html>
    <head>
        ...
        <[nestable] itemscope>
            <meta itemprop='foo' content='bar'/>
        </[nestable]>
        ...
    </head>
    ...
</html>

We have ruled out <META> for this role because it is a void element.

There have been objections to <SCRIPT> and <STYLE> because the contents of
these elements are generally not treated as parseable HTML markup.

There have been objections to the <OBJECT> element because it implies <BODY>. 

So where does that leave us?

There seem two ways of moving forward, either (1) we introduce a new element
that satisfies the above definition of [nestable] or (2) we reexamine the
limitations on <OBJECT> element and once again allow it in the <HEAD> (as it
was in HTML 4).  

My specific preference is for the second approach, but my much stronger more
general preference would be that the HTML 5 specification to allow for the
embedding of arbitrarily complex Microdata in the <HEAD> element.

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Received on Thursday, 22 December 2011 22:40:21 UTC

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