Microformats at the PDC

Joshua Allen blogged the Panel on the Future of RSS at Microsoft‘s in Los Angeles, with great folks like Robert Scoble (moderator), Amar Gandhi (), Jeff Barr (Amazon), (start.com), Greg Reinacker (Newsgator), Mike Ehrenberg (MSFT MBS/CRM), and Doug Purdy. Two really great quotes that merit repeating here:

  1. Audience:

    KISS. If you keep extending RSS, at what point does it become just another XML protocol.

  2. Amar:

    It’s a vocabulary for representing data items; that seems a good place to keep it.

  3. Doug:

    Agreed. As soon as you start introducing information entities, you’ve gone too far.

Precisely. If you keep extending a specific language like with custom extensions, you end up with a mess and at worst, a Tower of Babel scenario. Keep RSS simple. It’s a nice envelope format for delivering a dated stream of items.

  1. Audience:

    As you introduce extensions, does this replace RDF? Do you need to handle schema for extensions?

  2. Amar:

    Talking about microformats with technorati, simple extensions and the social feedback loop. If you get into ontologies and taxonomy, it’s squishy.

Thanks for the kind mention Amar. I had the very good opportunity to meet with Amar and other members of the RSS team at this past week at the PDC and we had an excellent discussion about and how to use them to capture/publish “common” semantic structures in visible data, in HTML, RSS, etc.. Amar originally found out about microformats from Kevin’s post on Gnomedex calendar the microformat way.

Microsoft is one of the co-authors of , and it’s great to see Microsoft’s RSS folks get involved with microformats as well. Welcome.

3 Responses to “Microformats at the PDC”

  1. Ryan :

    I don’t get it. What the hell is a microformat? It is not explained clearly here. I’m told it builds upon and presents a new way of thinking of semantic standards-based web design. How? There are so many damn acronyms, catch phrases, and accumulated technological jargon being used to try and explain what this is all about that it makes no sense even to the seasoned web designer. If it simplifies markup then show us how.

    Just use the standards we have and don’t try to complicate things anymore than they already are. Pretty soon, learning to design with web standards will be the equivalent of learning a programming language like C++. We don’t need 500+ page behemoth books on designing semantically correct websites filling the shelves anytime soon.

    September 20th, 2005 at 10:45 pm

  2. Sam Sethi :

    Recent PDC demo’s of Vista talked about a ratings and review meta-data feature within the new Windows explorer. Is this based on hReview?

    September 21st, 2005 at 3:12 am

  3. Tantek :


    You ask some very good questions and raise very legitimate points.

    One simple way to think of microformats is that they are a way to formalize practices of modern web designers (e.g. (X)HTML authoring, using semantic classes) to publish information on the web in a more discoverable, reusable manner. If you have questions about specific acronyms, catch phrases, jargon etc., I encourage you to join various microformats discussions, in particular, the IRC channel is quite helpful.

    You say “just use the standards we have”, and the microformats community definitely shares your frustration. One of the core principles of microformats is to reuse as much as possible from existing publishing practices and existing interoperable standards. If you see something that is being reinvented that should be reusing instead, please speak up! We definitely want that kind of input. We have a welcome attitude towards such constructive criticism on the mailing list.

    You also said “don’t try to complicate things anymore than they already are”. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, one our stated goals is to simplify things, and provide simpler alternatives to some of the overly complex proposals that are floated.

    We’d also like to hear your thoughts, as a seasoned web designer, about what techniques for publishing visible semantic information you have found the most useful, applicable to the widest range of content etc.


    I haven’t seen the demos of Vista’s ratings and reviews feature. Do you have any URLs that provide additional information?



    September 21st, 2005 at 1:13 pm