Overdue measurement microformat: useful for radio station frequencies

Three or four years ago, I and a few others did a lot of work preparing a draft for a , hMeasure, for marking up length, mass (weight), temperature and so on. Sadly, it has yet to be taken up by the unelected and unaccountable clique who oversee the microformats “process” — but that’s a story for another time.

Recently Corey Mwamba asked how he could semantically mark up the frequencies of radio stations, for example:

Heart FM (Sussex) 102.4 MHz (Eastbourne)

My friend Toby Inkster rightly proposed the use of the “note” property, but I think that authors could also usefully use a non-microformat class name of “frequency”, for added semantic richness (and to aid screen-scrapers), and better still, the proposed hMeasure:

         <div class="vcard">
                 <b class="fn org">Heart FM
                    (<span class="adr">
                        <span class="locality">Sussex</span>
                     </span>)
                 </b>
                 <i class="note frequency">
                         <span class="hmeasure">
                          <span class="num">102.4</span>
                          <span class="unit">MHz</span>
                        </span>
                         (<abbr title="50.9761;0.2293" class="geo">
                              Eastbourne
                          </abbr>)
                 </i>
         </div>

If enough people use this pattern (and write up their experiences of doing so), then a de facto microformat will emerge.

Update: There’s a copy of that code at pastebin.com/CXCYT5nF which has syntax highlighting, and which you can replicate and edit if you wish to make a counter suggestion.

Update 2: I have now implemented this in the Wikipedia Frequency template, as seen, for example, on the article about BRMB.

About Andy Mabbett

Enjoying my freelance career, helping organisations to understand on-line communities, open content, and related issues; often as a Wikimedian (or Wikipedian) in Residence.

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4 Responses to Overdue measurement microformat: useful for radio station frequencies

  1. Corey says:

    Hello!

    I posted my initial thoughts on this to the mailing list, but to continue discussion here – I think for the Wikipedia article the use of hMeasure really works, but I’m still not sold on using it in an hCard…

    As I read it, in the Wikipedia infobox the frequency is being quoted as a measurement. But if you wanted to show the address details of the station, it wouldn’t be a measurement – but a location in the spectrum of radio frequency.

    I’m making an assumption here, but I don’t think anyone really thinks about radio station frequencies as a measurement [even though that is what they are]. We ask where a station is; not how many.

    This I’d see as similar to Geo, where latitude and longitude are obviously measurements, but we state it as a location double, without units [or as an Ordnance Survey grid reference].

    I do think that if an author wanted to use the units for radio station location, they should be able to; and what I wrote on the mailing list suggests a “frequency” property, with band, unit, low and high sub-properties. But maybe this can be put into the adr property as a sub-property: this would allow for the use of hMeasure if necessary. I had to modify your example a bit though:

       <div class="vcard">
          <b class="fn org">Heart FM</b>
          <span class="adr">
             (<span class="locality">Sussex</span>)
             <i class="frequency">
                <span class="hmeasure">
                   <span class="num">102.4</span>
                   <span class="unit">MHz</span>
                </span>
                (<abbr title="50.9761;0.2293" class="geo">
                   Eastbourne
                </abbr>)
             </i>
          </span>
       </div>
    

    (also at pastebin.com/N79FWH67, with syntax highlighting)

    I’m just not sure if it’s as tidy as:

       <div class="vcard">
          <b class="fn org">Heart FM (Sussex)</b>
          <i class="frequency">
             102.4<abbr class="unit" title="Megahertz">MHz</abbr>
             <span class="band">FM</span>
          </i>
          (<abbr title="50.9761;0.2293" class="geo">Eastbourne</abbr>)
       </div>
    

    (also at pastebin.com/M43nsuR4)

    What do you think?

  2. Hi Corey, thanks for your response.

    There’s no reason why you shouldn’t do as you propose in your first example; but unless you wrap the frequency in a child-property of ADR, it won’t be included in the latter.

    Your second example, though, has no semantic mark up around the “102.4” value. Also, as it doesn’t use hMeasure (which is designed to work with SI units), will not be recognised if and when that microformat takes off.

    One additional thought, though: in all these examples, including mine, the coordinates will be taken as being those of the station as a whole, by virtue of being included in the parent hCard.

  3. Corey Mwamba says:

    Hello! It’s true that the 102.4 has no mark up: but in my use case I wouldn’t ordinarily quote the units since I’m not sure how useful the units are when talking about radio stations. Since I see the frequency as a location on a dial/slider on a radio, does it matter that the units are there if I know the band and where I can pick it up from?

    Like I said – and I know it’s an assumption but – as we ask where a station is and not how many Hertz, I suspect that the SI units are irrelevant in common usage, even if it is arguable that they are implied. So perhaps some flexibility is required?

    Based on my assumption, the two things I reckon a person will know is the value of the frequency [but not the units] and the band [FM/MW/LW/SW…]: I’m basing this on what radio presenters say when announcing the station and but if you DID know the units then hMeasure would come into its own. So my second example should omit the units.

  4. Corey says:

    I decided to put a bit more thought to this and you can see my thinking thus far at

    http://pastebin.com/rhhz5wfe

    There’s a TV example there too!

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