HTML5, RDFa, fights about web semantics

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Jul 8 2009. The recent events in the ongoing HTML5 vs. XHTML war, quite unfortunately, are utilised by some to restart a battle of RDFa vs. microformats that appears to be rather pointless.

Things heated up when W3C closes down XHTML2 to provide more resources to HTML5 last week, causing quite some discussion on the Web, with Shane McCarron' reply being one of the more prominent contributions.

Unfortunately, the issue is closely related to the question of how to embed semantic data into Web pages, since XHTML can be used with RDFa and microformats, whereas HTML 5 currently only supports the latter. So it is not surprising that an unofficial FAQ that Henri Sivonen publishes about HTML5 is classified "anti-RDFa" by some. A first reply by Manu Sporny clarifies that people actually started to work on HTML5 integration of RDFa, so the technological disparity that some try to conjure up is probably not so serious when taking a practical look.

I continue to be surprised about the aggressiveness that is still found in some discussions of the relationship between microformats and RDFa. Many applications of SMW, for example, simply depend on a generic data exchange format like RDF, while many other applications are better off using a suitable microformat. As the end of the HTML vs. XHTML debate seems to be near, there might be hope that the discussion of ยต-formats and RDFa will get less heated, too. Google is using both anyway.

Meanwhile, ALA publishes the second part of its RDFa introduction for web developers – at least one contribution that focusses on pragmatics instead of politics when discussing technology.

Update: And here it is, the First Editors Draft of HTML5+RDFa.

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