[uf-discuss] what is a microformat?

Keith Alexander k.j.w.alexander at gmail.com
Sun May 6 07:32:54 PDT 2007

Andy Mabbett wrote:
>> I think (at least) 3 distinctions need to be made:
>> - 'vanilla' semantic HTML (using non-presentational html markup
>> appropriate to the content it describes)
>> - HTML-based data formats (actually, this is what I was looking for a
>> term for when I suggested 'POSH')
> How can something be "semantic HTML" but not be "plain old semantic
> HTML"?
Well, it was suggested in a light-hearted irc conversation, more in jest 
than otherwise, so I'm not about to defend this as a serious definition, 
but, much as people often use 'POX' to  talk about XML used as a data 
format, without the formalities of specifications, schemata and 
ontologies , I suggested 'POSH' as a term for talking about semantic 
html as data format, without the formalities of Microformats.org 
specifications or ontologies (eRDF, RDFa, GRDDL).

>> - Microformats (HTML data formats that have gone through the
>> Microformats Process - a canon of html data formats )
> I see that more of a continuum than three distinct phases,
I don't see them as phases or stages either - I see them  as  distinct 
(though related) concepts.
>  and I think
> that, over time, people will some to see the progression from the second
> to the third of your stages not so much as requiring compliance with
> what is, after all an arbitrary process, but as depending on community
> uptake.
Which community? microformats.org? or the broader community of html authors?
> Indeed, there are already microformats, such as "nofollow", which we
> recognise as such, but which do not appear to have followed that
> process.
Given that, I'd perhaps redefine a 'Microformat' as  an HTML convention 
(can something like 'nofollow' be called a 'data format'?) endorsed by 
the Microformats community.

I think it's worth enabling a distinction between 'Microformats' and 
'HTML data formats' - irrespective of popularity. 'Microformats' is  a 
specific approach, with certain  principles. Without a distinction 
between 'HTML data formats' and 'Microformats', there is a risk of the 
perception that:

- The microformats community endorses an html data format, when they don't.
- The developers of an HTML data format endorse the microformats 
principles and approach, when they don't.

Keith Alexander



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