RDFa needs to rethink its nomenclature

RDFa has a nomenclature problem. They need to rebrand what they are calling things if they want to prevent eyes from glazing over and hearts from sinking with that “Oh, my God, I don’t have time to learn all this,” feeling that they create with their unusual terminology.

What’s all this stuff about “flavors” at the W3C?  They are saying the rel=”license” attribute and value added to a link is “flavor?”

diagram from the W3C about rel attribute

Or take a look at this tutorial. It’s a very well done tutorial, but it’s using nomenclature about subjects, predicates and objects.

Subjects and predicates. What?

After we learn all about subjects, predicates and objects, we may realize that we are talking about ELEMENTS WITH ATTRIBUTES AND VALUES! So why not call them elements, attributes, and values? Why throw in nomenclature about triples and predicates and flavors?

Compare that with the tutorials at RDFaWiki, where you see examples without all the distracting terminology.

All you RDFa people are screaming at your computers now. Yes, of course, I’m oversimplifying. So you can brush off the suggestion as too stupid and simple-minded to even consider if you want. That’s OK.  I’m just saying that if you call things by familiar names like element, attribute and value, you will grab more people who are willing to spend a little time figuring out what you’re doing. Which might mean that RDFa achieves a better adoption rate.

3 thoughts on “RDFa needs to rethink its nomenclature”

  1. The nomenclature is part of the specification, but that doesn’t mean we have to carry it through to our writings. What we need is usage examples.

    I’m curious, though: subject and predicate are mentioned extensively in English. How do you feel about the term use in that field?

    1. I don’t mind the terminology in English. But I think it’s throwing unnecessary terms into the mix. For people who want to learn something about RDFa or the semantic web, my opinion is it creates a barrier because it’s odd and unusual. If they used terms common to the Web already, that initial barrier would evaporate.

  2. Being French the words are mostly meaningless, aka they took their functional meaning for me. In French, it would be more or less translated by (sujet, verbe, complement).

    About the confusing part of it, what you see in the RDFa primer is a document intended for explaining *developers* about the topics. Your flag is very interesting, it shows that the direct access to resources without context or teachers makes it difficult to address all type of audiences at once.

    If you have the feeling that you understood a bit more, I would encourage you to contribute your own tutorial in your own words. 🙂

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