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Re: RDF Web Applications WG Position on RDFa/Microdata Task Force

From: Cameron Heavon-Jones <cmhjones@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2011 15:58:09 +0100
Cc: W3C TAG <www-tag@w3.org>, "HTML WG (public-html@w3.org)" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <472784BF-04A1-42A4-A340-46F056EFA01C@gmail.com>
To: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>

On 11/07/2011, at 3:31 PM, Manu Sporny wrote:
> CONCERN: Scope of structured data in HTML not clearly defined
> What are the goals of the structured data in HTML work? Is it to support
> the RDF data model? Support some other Microdata-like data model?
> Support all of the use cases identified? Only support use
> cases that are "mainstream" for Web developers? Provide a browser API
> and unified view of structured data on the web? How much complexity
> should be exposed to a beginner of structured data? If there is to be a
> unified path forward for structured data on the Web, it is important to
> understand which use cases we're supporting and which ones we're leaving
> behind.
> We recommend that the Task Force identify a clear set of goals and use
> cases that are to be supported by the structured data in HTML work. The
> questions above are provided as suggested discussion points.

To provide some additional suggested discussion points, i would like to highlight what concerns me about the current specification of HTML and methods for data markup.

In addition to the separate HTML data markup technologies of RDFa, microdata and microformats, there also exist the additional native HTML nodes for the semantic markup of data, specifically date\time elements and the data-(*) global attributes. 

The current situation may be analogous to the state encountered with HTML4 and the stylistic attributes which were included in the specification only to be rendered obsolete with the symbiosis of stylesheet technology, and specifically the convergence and adoption of CSS.

There exists a duplication of specification of how authors could markup data within documents. It has been filed[1] that date\time elements may not be the ideal method for providing machine readable temporal information, and combined with the grievous omission of calendar declaration and these elements are potentially hazardous for implementation in their current form. They have also introduced the requirement for stylistic configuration and customisation which brings data markup into an indivisible adornment of the HTML technology suite and requiring integration on such a level.

The inclusion of data-(*) attributes is possibly seen as one of the simplest and most liberating additions to the HTML language within this version's iteration. However their omission from greater semantic scope would seem to either render these attributes as opaque for semantic derivation or provide an input to be considered for capturing ontological information in the disparate environment of the web.

I contend that a starting point for discussions on a solution to data markup will require the investigation of how these native HTML nodes are integrated into a final solution, or resulting in their modification or removal from the final recommendation.

[1] http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=13240

> CONCERN: Key implementers will choose to not be involved.
> It is vital that companies that have deployed, or intend to deploy,
> structured data are active participants in the Task Force. This includes
> having the right set of people there as well as ensuring that they are
> committed to the work of the group. The XForms/WebForms and XML/HTML
> Task Forces largely failed in their mandate due to inactivity by major
> participants.
> We recommend that personnel from relevant companies are involved and
> that those personnel have decision making power to enact change in their
> organizations related to the Task Force findings.

The merit of the solution will be the quantifier for the level of adoption and progress of any implementation.

> -- manu, on behalf of the RDF Web Applications Working Group

I have not forwarded to RDF webapps, please do so if appropriate.

> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-rdfa-wg/2011Jun/0058.html
> [2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2011Jul/0011.html
> [3]
> http://www.w3.org/2010/02/rdfa/meetings/2011-06-30#Official_Position_on_WWW__2d_TAG_issue
> [4] http://www.w3.org/2011/06/30-html-wg-minutes.html#item09
> -- 
> Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
> President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
> blog: PaySwarm Developer Tools and Demo Released
> http://digitalbazaar.com/2011/05/05/payswarm-sandbox/

Cameron Jones
Received on Friday, 29 July 2011 14:58:55 UTC

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