thoughts on @profile (ISSUE-55)


Sam has repeatedly asked for people to pick up this issue, and to make 
concrete proposals for spec text. Unfortunately I didn't have yet time 
to do so, but I'll try to at least summarize my thoughts on it.


(1) Syntax (1/2)

The @profile attribute is underspecified in HTML 4.01; there is 
disagreement whether the ability to specify multiple profile URIs is 
legal syntactically, and whether "additional" profiles carry any meaning.

That has led to the unfortunate situation where TIDY-based validators 
(such as <>) report multiple URIs 
in @profile as error (see 

This problem IMHO should be fixed as erratum to HTML 4.01. Does that 
fall into our charter?

(2) Syntax (2/2)

Many have pointed out that it makes more sense to expose a profile as a 
link relation with @rel="profile". I think this is a good idea, although 
issue (1) should be resolved nevertheless so that there is a transition 

(3) Dependencies from other specifications

There are currently several specifications that require @profile, such as

a) GRDDL (W3C)
b) DC-in-HTML (DublinCore)
c) Several microformats (

If we believe that using link/@profile='rel' is a good solution then we 
should talk to these people and see whether they are willing to update 
their specs accordingly (I understand that many in the microformats 
community do not care about @profile at all, but in that case they need 
encouragement to update their documentation).

(4) Format of a "profile document"

As far as I can tell, profile URIs are just like XML namespace URIs: the 
spec does not require them to be dereferenceable; clients are not 
required to dereference them, and there is no standard document format 
for them. (Are they Information Resources? /me ducks)

(5) Not breaking other specifications

Unless there's a technical reason why this needs to be done, HTML5 
should not break other specs, in that what they say doesn't work for 
HTML5 anymore -- which is the current situation. Therefore, I think 
HTML5 should re-introduce head/@profile and make it valid, even though 
there may be better approaches, such as link/@rel=profile. I would 
support HTML5 defining the "profile" link relation, and having language 
that recommends using link/rel=profile over head/@profile in new 

BR, Julian

Received on Thursday, 21 May 2009 14:50:20 UTC