[uf-discuss] Developing a strategy for deployment of microformats

Brian Kelly B.Kelly at ukoln.ac.uk
Mon Jul 3 07:26:50 PDT 2006

Hi all
   I've just subscribed to this list, so I hope I'm not repeating any
previous discussions.
  Anyway, I first heard about microformats at WWW 2005, and heard much more
at WWW 2006, including meeting Brian Suda, Ryan King and others at a
microformats BOF in Edinburgh.
   I am a national Web adviser to UK Universities (HE) (and the cultural
heritage sector).  I'd like to help to support the takeup of microformats
across the HE sector.  We have an advantage in the UK with a sector which
works well together with many Web managers in the community subscribed to
the same mailing lists.  In addition we have an additional 3 day event aimed
at institutional Web managers.  This year's event (the tenth in the series)
attracted over 190 delegates (we have about 160 universities).  We also made
use of microformats on the event's Web site - see

I'd like to tap into the enthusiasm which the event generated by developing
a strategy for deployment of microformats within the sector.  My plans are

  1 Education: what are microformats; what are their limitations; etc.
  2 Demonstrators: provide examples of uses of microformats; encourage
others to engage in similar examples for themselves; look at ways in which
third parties can exploit our microformats in ways which benefit the
  3 Work with the wider micoformat community

As part of (1) I've written an Introduction To Microformats briefing paper -

In addition Phil Wilson (who is based here at Bath University) ran a
workshop session on microformats - 

As part of (2) I've been exploring the potential for using hCalendar
microformats for my forthcoming events: 

However I've encountered a number of irritating problems:

Problems with British Summer Time (Daylight Saving Time).  I've been told
that this is a well-known problem in handling date and time information, and
is not directly related to microformats or the software which processes
microformats.  However it strikes me that we will need to ensure that end
users (and microformat maintainers) are aware of such limitations.   It also
strikes me that there's a need for consistency across the software vendors -
which then leads on to (a) more rigorous documentation regarding what should
be done and (b) test cases.  Is anyone working on this?

Whilst trying to resolve the problem with BST I also spent some time playing
with the various date and time formats (i.e. using
2006-01-01T12:00:00+0100) with and without hyphens;  with UK and US
conventions for separators in time strings; etc.  I understand that the ISO
spec if flexible (is this correct).  However, even if this is the case,
there will still be a need to ensure software vendors implement the standard
correctly - again a need for a test suite.

As well as the issues regarding the spec and the hCard converters there are
also the issues about limitations in the calendaring tools.  I've read some
messages about Outlook, for example, not processing telephone numbers in
hCards correctly.  In this case, I think there's a need for documentation on
bugs in well-used software such as Outlook.

There is also a need to define what hCard tools should do if they encounter
multiple occurrences of hCards.  I understand that Brian Suda's Web-based
XSLT service processes the first occurrence on a page, whereas Tails
displays all occurrences in a sidebar.  Should the spec mandate what the
software should do in such circumstances?  

I feel that these issues should be addressed when seeking to encourage
takeup of microformats - so I've welcome comments.

Once the educational aspect has been addressed, I'd like to look into
recommendations for demonstrators which will best demonstrate the
capabilities of microformats and encourage wider takeup. However I'll leave
this to another posting.



Brian Kelly
UK Web Focus
University of Bath 
Email: B.Kelly at ukoln.ac.uk
Web: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/
Phone: 01225 383943
FOAF: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/ukoln/staff/b.kelly/foaf/bkelly-foaf.xrdf
For info on FOAF see http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/ukoln/staff/b.kelly/foaf/ 

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