Ben Adida on the microdata in HTML5 proposal:
So, I cannot live with something that throws away existing important implementations of the *exact* same use cases for no valid technical reason.
Indeed; I examined all the existing solutions that I could find closely as the first step (well, the second step, after collecting use cases). I didn’t go through all of them one by one in the e-mail, but I did explicitly examine Microformats and RDFa: http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-May/019681.html
If you go to that URI, here’s his explanation for why not RDFa:
- it uses prefixes, which most authors simply do not understand, and which many implementors end up getting wrong (e.g. SearchMonkey hard-coded certain prefixes in its first implementation, Google’s handling of RDF blocks for license declarations is all done with regular expressions instead of actually parsing the namespaces, etc). Even if implemented right, namespaces still lead to flaky copy-and-paste behaviour.
- it sometimes uses rel=”" and sometimes uses property=”" and it’s hard to know when to use one or the other.
- it introduces much more power than is necessary to solve this problem.
I think the first point is a reasonable one in the sense that prefixes have costs as well as benefits. But the same is true of unprefixed names. A balanced discussion of these tradeoffs seems warranted. Is it really (really!) worth it to invent an entirely new spec because of one fairly trivial issue? Is it really (really!) worth it to force tools developers and publishers to have to do double work?
The other two points range from trivial to entirely ridiculous. Who really decides, for example, how much power is needed for extensible metadata in HTML? Surely the answer will depend a lot on particular use cases? For example, on the general citation case, WikiPedia may have less demanding needs than an academic or legal journal. Shouldn’t that understanding that one size does not fit all be at the center of any extensible metadata support in HTML5?
He then goes on to try to “fix” these problems by removing prefixing, and the rel/property ambiguity. Recognizing that removing the prefixing introduces other problems for readability, etc., he concludes that
This, though, is quite ugly.
OK, so aesthetics are now a requirement shaping the design; I have no clue where that came from. To solve this problem he introduces an equally ugly, and completely arbitrary, new way to indicate a global name: the reverse DNS. Where’s the analysis that justifies these conclusions? Do we just accept these claims about aesthetics and usability without any kind of evidence?
Is there no sanity at all in the HTML5 process?