TPAC 2007 – URI-Based Extensibility: Benefits, Deviations, Lessons-Learned

The Technical plenary day is continuing. Someone in a comment earlier asked what TPAC was. TPAC means Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meeting. All W3C Working groups and representatives of W3C are meeting. This year we open a bit more the technical plenary day to bloggers, journalists, and Web designers community.

The session which just started is a bit more technical addressing URI-based extensibility in the Web architecture. URI are identifiers, exactly like a barcode in the physical world. The principle of URI-based extensibility relies on associating a vocabulary (markup language) with an URI. Imagine there is a Smith family in Boston and a Smith family in New-York, you will talk about the Smith of Boston or the Smith of New-York. You qualified the smith to disambiguate which ones you were talking about and to avoid misunderstandings. URI-extensibility is working in the same way but using URIs for the unique identifier.

Dave Orchard introduces the topics citing work in Web Architecture. Sam Ruby proposed a mechanism for HTML 5 and distributed extensibility. Ian Hickson challenged the benefits of URI extensibility by studying the small number of Web pages actually using the profile attribute in HTML pages. Dan Connolly says that even if his backyard is insignificant with regards to the rest of the planet, he might need disambiguation mechanism. Tim-Berners Lee remind that there is not only one community. HTML is a big community, but there are others communities. Smaller communities are more in need of uri-extensibility than bigger ones.

Dan Connolly is asking for support of the profile attribute in Dreamweaver. I tend to agree with Dan here. Some features are not used in the community because tools do not integrate them. Tools will not save us but they can help us a lot in many circumstances. Dan says that “it’s a bug when you have a merger; it’s a feature when people don’t play nice.”

Tim Berners-Lee: “The thing I like about web architecture is that I can follow my nose…. giving pointers, give context to things.”

Ian Hickson stresses out that there is little value to give URI for microformats for example, and that you still need knowledge of the vocabulary to implement it.

Dan Connolly replies that it is not fair that a community removes the possibility of using some vocabulary from other communities, just because they decided it.

Chris Wilson finds interesting that the community decide to formalize well-known semantics used largely by the community. I would reply to that the English community is imposing a lot of patterns on others communities.

One thought on “TPAC 2007 – URI-Based Extensibility: Benefits, Deviations, Lessons-Learned

  1. URI are identifiers, exactly like a barcode in the physical world.

    barcodes syntax have been obfuscated by the fact they were merely considered as identifiers. while barcodes are structured (as most computer codes and identifiers), rare are humans that can decode them.

    by considering URIs as mere identifiers, we omit the structure, syntax and semantics aspect in them. thus making the web less human friendly.

    see how IRI structure (slashes order), raises some issues in right to left scripts (Arabic and Hebrew).

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