W3C | Submissions

Comment on the Annotation of Web Content for Transcoding Submission

W3C is pleased to receive the Annotation of Web Content for Transcoding submission from IBM.

The Submission describes a method of transcoding well-formed HTML pages, using Xpointer and external meta-notations. The mechanism of associating an external meta-information set with a resource marked up in HTML 4.0 or earlier versions using XPointer presents a novel use of the technique. "Standoff markup" could be used for several things in addition to the transcoding vocabulary presented in the document, e.g. PICS notations, accessability formatting, general notations, etc.

Concerning the specific vocabulary presented, the Submission does not reference the CSS work, which could be used in the same way as the Submission describes that a direct transcoding could be used. It does not mention XSL, and does not discuss the fact that XSL can be used in a similar manner. It is further not clear how resources which are non-visual are intended to be handled, nor how synchronisation could be included in the annotations, if at all.  

The vocabularly also presents several novel terms, most interesting the pcd:Group, which may provide associations of different document elements in a context which goes outside this document. That said, the vocabulary needs to be aligned with the XHTML vocabulary, where similar elements (e.g. SPAN and CLASS) exist; as well as the XHTML work on document profiles.  

This work could be considered by the XHTML working group, as a future inclusion in an XHTML module; as well as the CSS and XSL working groups. The Xpointer working group may also want to consider this work as input for future work.

Given this, however, there are several implicit problems (which also are implict in XPointer), e.g. verifying the origin of a pointer, the integrity of the metainformation, etc. Since the originator of the annotation does not have to be the originator of the document, trust becomes an important issue for applications of this technique.

The "Unresolved Issues" section of the Submission also notes an important problem: How to resolve multiple annotations. While there is no need to change any existing W3C work to accomodate this method, it could be considered in future metadata work, as well as being input into further XPointer work.

On the whole, the technique described in the submission could enable a graceful path from the current page-oriented HTML format to a database-oriented XML-based presentation.

Next Steps

The W3C welcomes comments to the vocabulary described to the www-mobile@w3.org list [archive], and issues relevant to the Xpointer work should be discussed at www-xml-linking-comments@w3.org [archive].

Disclaimer: Placing a Submission on a Working Group agenda does not imply endorsement by either the W3C Staff or the participants of the Working Group, nor does it guarantee that the Working Group will agree to take any specific action on a Submission.

Johan Hjelm