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Subject: Re: [docbook] Furthering support for "existing standards"

On Jul 24, 2008, at 12:19 PM, Dave Pawson wrote:

Tony Rogers wrote:

And then I thought:    1. "Well, since the <author> element contains contact info for a
     person or an organization, and    2. the VCard standard contains contact information for a person or
     organization,    3. wouldn't it be great if I could just put all the authors / editors
     / etc. in one directory as Vcards and then put something like
     <author vcard="doe.john.vcf" /> in the DocBook source?"

... but, why would you want to Tony?
Isn't XML good enough?

Well, I was talking about XML, pretty much.  I did search ahead a bit and provide links to RDF/XML and plain XML implementations of Vcards…

And as for why I would want to, did you not read my original mail?  If I did not explain myself clearly, I apologize.  I cited benefits of significantly improved ease of maintenance, as well as helping advance the idea of "building on top of existing standards."  

One thing I don't believe I originally stated is that I'm suggesting this would be totally optional, and opt-in, so that no one would have to change a thing if they didn't want to.  But for those that want to take advantage of it, it's there.  And to take the thought one step further, if authors/editors/etc. had Vcards of FOAF referenced, then any XSL authors could then take advantage of those technologies, too.  (E.g., an HTML output could output a Vcard, or use the hCard microformat.)

vcard isn't exactly standardised, 

Is that a question?  (If not, stray punctuation happens, no biggie; I just want to know, in case I have an answer for you.)

Vcard isn't standardised?!  

I'm no expert on the subject by any means, but I do know that Vcard 2.1 is from 1996, and Vcard 3 is from 1998!  TWELVE and TEN years old, respectively.  

There are plenty of examples in the wild of Vcard: 
there's the previously mentioned hCard microformat; there's extensions for Firefox; there's a microformats plugin for Safari (hCard support included);  there's support for Vcards in Mac OS X Address BookKDE Kontact (PDF), and Microsoft Outlook; there are Facebook applications for Vcardsthere are 56 results for a "vcard" search on SourceForge.net (and I'd be willing to bet there are more projects that support it than that, on account of SourceForge's so-so search engine); there's a Vcard package for PHP.  

Enough users?  

I'd say that when that many people support Vcards, you've got a de facto standard as a bare minimum, guaranteed.

nor does it suffice
for those want 'Herr Dr Von ....' and various
other forms of formal address?

That's an easy one to solve:

  1. Specify the <author> (or whatever)
  2. Reference the Vcard
  3. Provide additional info as children of <author>, as desired

Pretty much the same idea as alt text for <img> elements in HTML.  That should cover any unmet needs of formal addresses.  (And without reading the lengthy spec, my gut tells me this is probably achievable even within Vcards as well.  But I've spent too long on this e-mail already. :)

I hope that answers your questions!


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