[uf-discuss] Microformats gets strong showing in Firefox 3 UI

Joe Andrieu joe at andrieu.net
Wed Jun 6 01:13:11 PDT 2007

Colin Barrett wrote:
> On Jun 5, 2007, at 10:57 PM, Paul Wilkins wrote:
> > Strictly speaking it isn't MMN because navigation itself isn't
> > involved. The problems surrounding the cursor change though are  
> > identical. If it is the only mechanism to find microformat 
> content,  
> > it won't be found until someone chances across it if they 
> notice it  
> > changing when it crosses such content.
> I was thinking about this, and I wonder -- how did people learn the  
> behavior that you can click on a blue, underlined piece of 
> text? Think  
> about a pre-web world where nobody knew what hypertext was. People  
> needed to figure out somehow that you could click on links to make  
> them activate.
> Enter, the hand cursor. If you think about it, it tells you nothing  
> about what's actually going to happen when you click -- instead, it  
> looks like someone about to click the mouse, so I suppose it's  
> inviting for people to mimic the gesture? This still doesn't answer  
> the question of how people would discover this. My guess is that  
> people scan the page with their mouse as they read. I know I do that  
> sometimes. Anyone have actual evidence?
> Perhaps we don't need to worry about discoverability of microformats  
> further than just changing the cursor, after all.

Blue hyperlinks are an idiom, which, once learned, was easy to understand.

However, they are far more than just the hover effect on the cursor.

They are /also/ blue and underlined.

Let's not under value the importance of that. The visual presentation is an "affordance" that tells users that clicking on it
navigates. Without the blue underline, you are back to the mystery meat navigation.  Even today, if the text isn't blue underlined,
it better have some other affordance for me to understand it's a link.

IMO, cursor effects should /support/ affordance, rather than being the primary indicator. The visual presentation should show that
something special happens and then the cursor effect confirms it. 

My gut instinct for Firefox is that we probably need three steps (1) an RSS-like microformats indicator (2) a way to "activate" uF
and (3) a way for users to then interact with said uF. We might need offer multiple options for (2) and (3), we should certainly
consider several.

I like highlighting on a page, but that can be annoying and certainly hard to control from the HTML designers perspective. But it
could be a glyph appearing near the "corner" of a uF rather than a full "highlight" effect around the uF container. Clicking on the
glyph or the highlighted section then lets the user interact with the uF in some way.  Unfortunately, this messes with the design
and potentially puts the user in weird-mode where clicks do "abnormal" things compared to the non-uF highlighted mode (normal web

I think I prefer the idea of populating a list in a pop-up or sidebar window with all of the uF available on the page. This avoids
the problem of design-clash and provides an obvious place for a variety of interaction capabilities, like a right-clight to select
an application to send the uF to.


Joe Andrieu
SwitchBook Software
joe at switchbook.com
+1 (805) 705-8651 

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