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Re: [vcard] multiple names, multiple address lines

From: Garret Wilson <garret@globalmentor.com>
Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2007 06:28:44 -0700
Message-ID: <4611050C.2090906@globalmentor.com>
To: David Powell <djpowell@djpowell.net>
CC: semantic-web@w3.org


David Powell wrote:
> Is there any reason why we can't just space separate multi-valued N
> components like this:
> []    rdf:type ex:N ;
>       ex:familyName "Geldof" ;
>       ex:givenName "Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa" .

As I mentioned before, one certainly *can* do that, but if we do, what's 
the point of RDF? Why don't we just stick everything in a single ex:N 
literal value? In fact, why don't we just use normal vCard format---why 
RDF? Note the problem: RDF can handle distinct properties just fine, but 
has real problems with optionally plural values. That scares me 
somewhat, as the use case here is neither complicated nor uncommon.

Here's another question: is "Norman Jean" one first name or two? If 
someone has a name of "Norma Jean Peaches", is that two first names of 
"Norma Jean" and "Peaches", three first names, or what?

> are there any legitimate i18n concerns about doing that?

I think the issue comes up more in family names than in given names. I 
would think that we would want to distinguish that "van Buren bin Laden" 
is actually two family names, "van Buren" and "bin Laden". Again, if RDF 
forces us to stick them all in one string with a custom sub-syntax, why 
aren't we just using Directory vCard syntax?

>   I suppose you need to think what the N field is for.  vCards guarantee
>   an FN field (in theory), which is most appropriate for display, so I
>   guess that N is just to simplify sorting on surname and given name.

I would hope that the N property is for more than just sorting! 
Genealogical inferences, mail-merge, and i18n come to mind. (English 
"Edward" / Portuguese "Eduardo", for example.)

>   I
>   guess that additionalNames doesn't necessarily have a correct position
>   in the formatted name and is just a catch-all for everything else.

I would think that this is for what Americans call "middle names".

>   So as long as it is preserved, I don't think it matters what it
>   means.

Perhaps, but I want to preserve the delimitization and order of whoever 
filled in the form or whoever send me their vCard. If I'm trying to 
close a huge business deal in China, are the people on the other side of 
the negotiating table going to be very happy when my RDF processor mixes 
up the order of their middle names, whatever they mean?

> For addresses the intent is clearly for multiple items in each
> sub-component to represent multiple lines in the address, so why not
> just represent them as a line-feed separated value?

It is certainly possible to do that. But again, is RDF so impoverished 
that we have to define a sub-syntax? "This field uses spaces to separate 
values. This other field uses LF to separate values. But remember to 
collapse CRLF into a single LF, and consider a single CR to be 
syntactically incorrect. Oh, and don't forget a / to indicate a 
continuation of a next line, unless of course we encode the / 
somehow..." Didn't we move beyond all that once we got into the RDF data 
model? Are we going to define entire new grammars just to get stuff out 
of Directory vCard into RDF? That's the problem I have with this sort of 
thing, although it is certainly possible.

Received on Monday, 2 April 2007 13:29:58 UTC

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