[microformats-discuss] Picoformats

Dimitri Glazkov dimitri.glazkov at gmail.com
Wed Aug 24 06:19:10 PDT 2005

Ok, I admit, I am inventing catchy new words here.

However, this seems to capture the experience that I've been going
through recently. I find that the microformats concept fits quite
nicely at an application level, as opposed to some "the whole

It is no surprise to anyone that rarely a modern Web application could
escape dealing with DOM scripting in one way or another. As you I am
sure already know, the biggest issue that the semantic people have
with scripting is that needs to be bound correctly, without having
behavior injected in content with the onclicks, onsubmits, and worse
yet, document.writes and "javascript:"s.

Well, the microformats offer a simple and generalized way to identify
additional semantics in content, and I have been capitalizing on this
quite a bit with my JS bindings.

The approach is simple: define additional semantics with classNames
and element names (when necessary), then have the script look for them
at the time of loading and bind code if found. This has been done
before and there is nothing new about this.

These additional semantics should follow the spirit of the
microformats, but not have the burden of "standardization", because
they are application or vendor-specific. They are picoformats.

After a while, these additional semantics may start forming patterns
that span applications, vendors, at which point it becomes obvious
that a microformat is emerging. At this point, the consequences of
interpretation and changes start getting a lot more substantial, and a
centralized management of the specs becomes necessary.

I believe it is crucial to the popularization of microformats to
cultivate picoformats in an organized way, so that there is a common
body of peers to discuss, review and exchange picoformats, and also
spot the progression and adoption of them into microformats.

The main difference with the current thinking: I think the wide
adoption of microformats is inevitable and looming. I believe you guys
will get inundated very quickly with microformat proposals that span,
overlap, solve application-specific problems, rather than common
specific problems, or address "pie in the sky" academic dillemmas. The
picoformats farm is the microformats purgatory, where the test of
adoption is applied and natural selection is used as engine that
powers a paricular picoformat toward becoming micro. See, I used both
darwinist and creationist themes in one sentence, how cool is that? :)

As an interesting sideline: naturally, the next step in this
progression is incorporating the microformat into the actual markup
language, should the microformat be deemed that general. That would
probably happen very rarely, but looking at the new elements in XHTML
2.0 spec, I wouldn't be surprised.

Thoughts, comments?


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