HTML Made Special

Too Many Vocabularies

There’s another practice here that suggests it’s a bad idea to reinvent the wheel. The most obvious way to avoid that is to simply reuse as much as possible that has already been defined elsewhere. There can, however, be too much of a good thing. If you are using RDFa/Microdata and every statement is a Frankenstein of properties from a great variety of sources, chances are it will be hard on your authors to remember which comes from where.

If you find yourself reusing small parts from many other projects, the odds are that you’re really cobbling together a mess of subsets with no structural integrity more than anything else. You might get better results building your own wheel rather than trying to fit bicycle tires on carriage rims affixed to truck axles.

A classic example of mindless reuse is SVG’s xlink:href. On paper, back in the 90s, it sounded like a good idea that people could create their own vocabularies but links would work the same everywhere. Links are pretty important to browsers and to hypertext (or so I’m told). It might have been true if a real ecosystem had developed around XLink, but nothing could be further from the truth. Reusing XLink in SVG has only caused overhead and annoyance.

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