@Media2007: Tantek Celik: Microformats, Building Blocks, and you

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.

Tantek Celik is the Chief Technologist at Technorati an Internet search engine for searching blogs and the brains behind Microformats, he is a very likeable and dryly humourous speaker.

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.

A second good example is hCalendar, this is a format for an events list. Events can be transferred into Google Calendar where desired.

Other examples are:

  • hReview: a standardised structure for user reviews on Web 2.0 sites, it is implemented nicely on Cork’d, a community for wine aficionados.
  • hResume: is a microformat for publishing resumes and CVs.

I’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.

4 thoughts on “@Media2007: Tantek Celik: Microformats, Building Blocks, and you

  1. The great thing about microformats is that they are easy to get started with and as such I think they we are going to see more web authors enhancing their content with them.

    There are lots of sites that are starting to incorporate them into their code, Yahoo, Flickr, upcoming and last.fm to name a few.

    The tails extension for firefox is an excellent add on that detects if microformats are present on a page and also displays their content within the browser before you export it to you application.

  2. I think their time has just about come. The key is browser integration. Once the browser engine is able to do the microformat markup detection rather than buggy plugins which leak memory and slow down the browser then they’ll start to be very usable.

  3. Recently ‘Microformats’ has been a major buzz word in the web design community, I’m doing a research to find out about what Microformats are all about, the benefits of using Microformats, how to implement them and how we can embrace them to help to build new types of online services in the University.

    Microformats is a word I found quite scary at first but the more you read about it the more you realise its possible widespread use.

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