There has been a buzz about Microformats for over a year now, but until recently I was still confused by the concept. I had no idea how they could be implemented effectively and I was unsure of their relevance. The Microformats website is also rather academically written, and lacks the clear non-technical language that we designers prefer.
To try to illustrate what Microformats are quickly, hCard is a good example, it is a way of marking up your personal details: Name; Address, Email etc using XHTML code and an internationally recognised semantic structure. This code alone may provide structure, but really comes into its own when used with the Firefox add-on Operator 0.7, this allows you to instantly transfer the details from the page into your address book in Microsoft Outlook with a single click.
Other examples are:
- hReview: a standardised structure for user reviews on Web 2.0 sites, it is implemented nicely on Corkâ€™d, a community for wine aficionados.
- hResume: is a microformat for publishing resumes and CVs.
Iâ€™m sure there are more Web apps that Microformats can interact with; I will expand on this when I have researched the subject further.
With Microformats I think the emphasis is on the micro, they are small but useful formats. They could be very powerful if they were implemented universally and a mainstream browser incorporated Operator 0.7 into its interface, but for the time being their use seems to be confined to the IT community.