Discovery algorithms are a set of algorithms to start with a URL like a home page or post permalink, and determine information about that URL, such as authorship, page-name, and date published, often making use of follow your nose techniques.
On the IndieWeb, you are your URL and your URL is you. With a well-designed IndieWeb site, as humans we can discover all the information you choose to share about yourself.
This page is for documenting and brainstorming ways to discover that same information automatically by following a combination of semantic markup and algorithms.
If you’re looking for a user-centric definition of discovery, see:
The following algorithms are fairly well-developed, mature, and well implemented:
Typical IndieWeb sites have profile and often contact information right there on the home page.
Best publishing practice: mark it all up with hCard, especially your hyperlinks to other profiles with class="u-url url" and rel="me". This will create a representative hCard which can then be used by other sites. Use this tool to check how your hCard gets parsed.
Examples in the wild:
Best parsing practice: when given an indieweb URL that represents a person, parse it for a representative hCard and use that hCard for information about that person. Details:
Separate Contact Page
Some IndieWeb sites have contact information on a separate page from the home page, but linked from the home page. While such links may be obvious to humans, e.g. with text labels like "Contact" or "About", it's not at all obvious to parsers where to find more information.
Examples of sites with separate contact/about pages:
- https://adactio.com/ - contact information at: https://adactio.com/contact/
- https://voxpelli.com/ - about information at: https://voxpelli.com/about (linked to with rel-me from front page)
- https://kartikprabhu.com/ - about information at: https://kartikprabhu.com/about (linked with rel-me from homepage)
- Jacky Alciné: At https://jacky.wtf, every page is marked up with
h-cardthat points to /about, where my representative h-card lives at. I picked this approach to align with the HTML5 spec. From there, my contact page's linked at /contact.
- With a new 'rel' value, e.g. rel="contact-info", parsers could discover such links, follow them, and then parse the destination for a representative hCard.
Most IndieWeb sites have updates on their home page, a stream of updates as it were, for example:
- Jacky Alciné: I keep a few small h-feeds on my homepage that point to my microblog, linklog and articles. They're referenced by anchors, so any capable parser could use that for a feed.
Best parsing practice: parse the given URL for hAtom (and preferably microformats2 h-entry).
Others have a simple introduction/contact page as their home page, and provide updates at another URL, for example:
- ... old adactio.com
- ... any current examples? Maybe folks that have only an IndieWeb contact home page and then link to a separate page for their blog?
- With a new 'rel' value, e.g. rel="updates", parsers could discover links to separate "journal", "updates", "notes", "stream" pages and then parse those for hAtom and h-entry.
To discover information about a post on a post permalink page:
- Parse the page for h-entry and retrieve post name, summary, URL, contents, and author accordingly.
Summary: (see main authorship page for full algorithm)
- If the author is also an h-card, parse that for more information about the author such as name, photo, logo, URL, etc.
- If there is no p-author, then look for a rel-author link.
- Follow it, and retrieve the representative h-card from the destination for author information
Assuming a post permalink page, see:
- If the h-entry has a
dt-publishedproperty, use that.
- This is the only thing that's been implemented. Here are some fallbacks:
- else the following sources may be used to infer it (brainstorming)
- Check the URL path. If the start (? or somewhere near the start?) of the URL path of the permalink is:
/YYYY/MM/DD/= publication date ISO YYYY-MM-DD
- Sites using this: aaronparecki.com
/YYYY/DDD/= publication date ISO Ordinal YYYY-DDD
- Sites using this: tantek.com
To find the POSSE copies of an original post, on that original post's permalink page:
- Look for rel=syndication links
- Treat their destinations as POSSE'd copies of the original post
To find an original post from a POSSE'd copy, on that POSSE'd copy's permalink page:
- Follow original-post-discovery
Real Time Updates
... rel=hub ... on link to PuSH hub for your updates.
For an improved Salmon key-discovery flow (that is, not using DRY-violating XRD files and web-breaking email-like identifiers), we need to expose public keys somehow.
- https://microformats.org/wiki/existing-rel-values#HTML5_link_type_extensions (specifically the
- Examples of how people are exposing their public key in the wild
Public key exchange was also discussed at the IndieWeb dinner on November 1st, 2013, in the context of this in-person using QR codes. Potentially the QR code could simply be a URL pointing to the user's website, where a public key could be extracted from microformat encoding.
Help or About
HTML has the rel="help" value, but it's not clear that it conveys the "about" kind of resources you link to.
- Tom Morris has documented the IndieWeb support on his site on a separate page.
There are bunch of legacy discovery methods that are worth documenting, in case you want to interoperate with legacy systems that depend on them.
... rel=alternate ... type=...+xml ...
We should deprecate separate feeds as:
- Separate feeds are not technically necessary (hAtom or h-entry on visible HTML works just fine).
- Separate feeds violate the DRY principle
Examples that developers, e.g. folks at least familiar with manipulating and editing XML files, are publishing or can use:
- Chris Aldrich has a following page of people he's subscribed to along with subscribeable OPML files to allow others to discover those people too.
- tw2113 has published an OPML file of feeds he subscribes to over at OPML
- Share Your OPML - A service by Dave Winer for sharing your OPML file and aggregating against others to help uncover popular websites. See also: http://scripting.com/2016/10/12/areYouReadyToShareYourOpml.html The resultant combined data set can be found at http://feedbase.io/
Link rel discovery
Many discovery algorithms depend on link rel discovery, either via HTTP LINK headers and/or HTML
<link> tags. These libraries can help with parsing/extracting both:
- link_rel_parser - PHP
head_http_rels($url)- HTTP header string parser for RFC5988 Link: rels (including
X-Pingback) & function to curl a HEAD request and parse it all in one.
- link_rel_parser - Ruby Link header (RFC 5988) parser (port of link-rel-parser-php)
- phpish/link_header - PHP Link header (RFC 5988) parser
- PEAR: HTTP2 - PHP Link header (RFC 5988) parser (documentation)
- http-link-header - Haskell Link header (RFC 5988) parser
- ex_http_link - Elixir Link header (RFC 5988) parser
indieweb- Rust library provides logic for fetching and handling link-rel values from headers and HTML