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Re: PROPOSAL from telecon on XMLLiteral

From: Jeni Tennison <jeni@jenitennison.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2009 09:29:50 +0100
Message-Id: <26C1077D-7F91-4DF9-91FE-CD32EE880043@jenitennison.com>
To: RDFa <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>

On 23 Jul 2009, at 19:24, Ben Adida wrote:
> On the telecon today, Manu brought up Mark's proposal that we treat
> literals as plain by default, even when markup is present.
> In Manu's experience, in my experience, and from Yahoo tells me, this
> seems like it would be a welcome change. So, I made the following
> proposal during the call:
> PROPOSAL: for RDFa in HTML(4/5), an absence of @datatype defaults to
> plain literal, even when non-text-nodes are present in the DOM  
> subtree.
> This explicitly doesn't say anything about RDFa in XHTML 1.1,  
> because a
> change there requires a rev to the spec, of course. That said, that  
> will
> be the obvious next issue/proposal :)
> So, regular members of the task force: please vote on the above
> proposal. Others, we still welcome your input, of course!

It really worries me that the TF would make this kind of backwards- 
incompatible change lightly, when it will make existing  
implementations non-compliant and change the interpretation of  
existing RDFa.

It doubly concerns me that the TF would propose interpreting RDFa in  
HTML(4/5) differently from the same RDFa in XHTML 1.1, because  
detecting the difference is not exactly easy for client-side  
implementations, and it makes things harder for servers that are using  
content negotiation to serve the same file as HTML or XHTML (based on  
reported Content-Type) to different clients. Effectively, it will mean  
the best practice is to always supply a datatype attribute in the RDFa  
markup, just in case an XHTML-based RDFa processor parses it, and that  
is tedious in the extreme.

If RDFa is badly designed in how it says we should interpret a missing  
datatype attribute, I'm afraid that it's a mistake that our past  
selves made and that we have to live with. If people are going to  
build things on top of RDFa, they must be reassured that its  
specification is stable, and will not be changed on a whim.

But that's just my opinion.

Jeni Tennison
Received on Friday, 24 July 2009 08:30:25 UTC

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