[uf-discuss] awesome examples of microformats, faqs

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Mon May 8 13:47:18 PDT 2006

On 5/8/06, Drew McLellan <lists at allinthehead.com> wrote:

> I think what Chris is getting at (and forgive me if this is wrong,
> Chris ...) is that we can all see the massive benefits of
> microformats - but it's all slightly academic. As technical folk, we
> know that structured data is important and valuable, and therefore is
> practical to us. However, your average web designer isn't used to
> knocking up perl scripts to parse juicy data out of a page to use for
> something awesome. It's this crowd that needs to see practical
> examples of full round-trip use (like live clipboard) before they'll
> 'get it' and see the benefit enough to start implementing in earnest.
> Is that right Chris?

Yes, that captures pretty much what I'm getting at.

And I'm all about getting real/concrete and so on to make
microformats.org a much more useable resource for all comers --
whether core "committers" in the community, whether casual web
developers, whether bloggers, the media, template creators...
whomever. This stuff isn't rocket science but you wouldn't know it
with words like "normative" and "n optimization" flying around!

I mean, even the definition would turn most humans off -- and
microformats are for humans!

One popular definition from our mailing list
(http://microformats.org/discuss/) (see also: mailing-lists) is
"simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable
decentralized development." More precisely, microformats can be
defined as:

    simple conventions
    for embedding semantic markup

        for a specific problem domain

    in human-readable (X)HTML/XML documents, Atom/RSS feeds, and "plain" XML

        that normalize existing content usage patterns
        using brief, descriptive class names
        often based on existing interoperable standards

    to enable decentralized development

        of resources, tools, and services

How does rails describe itself? As an "opinionated framework for
developing web applications and has a considerable amount of
flexibility in the back end."

Pretty plain spoken if you ask me. So what are microformats?

"Microformats are simple codes that you can use to identity specific
kinds of data, like people or events, in your webpages."

Why would you use them?

"Microformats make it easy for you or anyone who can see your webpages
to reuse or your data and content elsewhere -- for example, to
populate an address book, examine social relationships, share reviews,
tag content or publish events."

Something like that. On the current site, we have "Designed for humans
first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data
formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards" which talks
about what they *are* but not what you can *do* with them!

So yeah -- anyway -- improving language is one thing, improving the
site architecture and discoverability is another. I've been in touch
with Drew and a woman named Vera who is an instructional designer
about improvements to the site. I've created a series of icons for the
Mac for microformats that I'd like to release soon... I want to smooth
the transition between the great-looking homepage and the wiki. I want
more visual examples and, as Drew said, I want more round-trip
examples that make people go "holy sh!t that's amazing!"

I'm open to ideas on how to organize this work. I can open up a
Basecamp account if there's interest (despite Tantek's dislike of the
tool). As Ryan pointed out, it's true, it's time for me to quit my
bitching and start getting something done. Busy as I am, I think we
can work incrementally -- but my concern at the moment is bringing
more help in and sustaining the effort.


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