In Search of Microformats

It’s been a very busy week for users of microformats. We made our announcement of the important new value-class-pattern over the weekend. That’s the culmination of a huge amount of brainstorming and community effort, and offers great improvements to using microformats accessibly and in international contexts.

Then since Tuesday, things have gone stratospheric. Google announced support for microformats right in their search engine, through a new ‘Rich Snippets’ feature, exposing hReview and hCard content within search results for many millions of users.

Rich Snippets give users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance. We are currently supporting data about reviews and people. When searching for a product or service, users can easily see reviews and ratings, and when searching for a person, they’ll get help distinguishing between people with the same name. It’s a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable—if they see useful and relevant information from the page, they are more likely to click through.

Kavi Goel, Ramanathan V. Guha, and Othar Hansson in the Google Webmaster blog.

It’s a big day. hCards and hReviews are already published in huge quantities all over the web (see lists of sites that publish hCard and hReview), but this is the biggest user-base so far to benefit from the consumption of microformats in an application.

It’s again wonderful to see microformats embraced as a way to enhance user experience and to see it shipped to such a large audience, so congratulations to Kavi, Ramanathan, Othar and their Google team on the launch.

Initially Rich Snippets are only displayed for a handful of domains, so if you’re an hReview or hCard publisher, add yourself to Google’s waiting list now!. And if not already listed, update our examples in-the-wild wiki pages too (hCard, hReview).

If you’re a developer new to microformats we highly recommend you refer to the large set of code examples on our wiki, which will help you get started: hCard examples, hReview examples. There’s also full hCard and hReview documentation.

Finally, if you need help checking your code, check the debugging tools wiki page for validators, linters and debuggers.

It’s fantastic to see microformats applications hit such a large search audience. From the earliest experimental index at Technorati, to Yahoo putting microformats into mainstream search with SearchMonkey in March of last year; we’ve come a long, long way, and it’s looking great. With Google adding support for two of the major microformats, it really underlines structured data as a concrete foundation of the open web, and modern web development in general.

And yet more! An immediate benefit to everyone from the Rich Snippets release: Yelp have added hReview and hCards to all of their listings. You never need copy and paste a restaurant address by hand again!

Recently in microformats (July edition)

‘This Week in Microformats’ is a summary of notable microformats activity from the mailing lists, wiki, events and the wider web.

On the wiki

  • Din Neville has been working hard this week, updating the Russian translation of the wiki. Thank you, Din.
  • datetime-design-pattern contains documentation and discussion of alternative patterns to represent dates and times.
  • The parsers page has fallen a little out of date. If you’d like to help update it with links to current available parsers, please help!
  • There’s a new html5 page to track changes in HTML5 which will affect microformats (both positive and negative). Not that these issues don’t affect parsing now, and won’t do until HTML5 is stable.

On the mailing lists

Discuss and Dev have been very busy with discussion around the abbr datetime pattern, there’s a lot of it and the threads cross over quite a lot. The core of these discussions should be documented on the wiki on the aforementioned page over the course of this week. The main threads are in the archive page for µf-dev and the archive page for µf-discuss

Other discussions:

On the web

Elsewhere

To contribute to the next issue, please edit the wiki page. Thanks!

Recently in Microformats

This Week in Microformats’ is a summary of notable microformats activity from the mailing lists, wiki, events and the wider web.

On the wiki

  • We’ve documented machine data usage in microformats (date and time formats, geographic locations, keywords in certain formats). The page is a quick reference for all the formats we specify, the all the current supported methods on how to embed data alongside your own text, in an HTML valid manner.

On the µf-Discuss mailing list

  • Discussion off the back of the BBC’s request for help learning about screen reader usage.

On the web

  • The BBC are asking for help in finding out how people use screen reader applications to read web pages aloud; critically, whether they have them set to always read the title attribute of abbreviation elements. Please give them some feedback if you can, it helps improve the information we have to work with on future patterns.
  • Martin McEvoy has released TransFormr: A Simple set of XSLT and PHP tools for Transforming Microformats. (“Read Martin’s introduction from µf-discuss”)
  • Hi5 have added hCard and XFN support to their friends lists.
  • Mahalo have added microformats to their search result pages.
  • Toluu have added an hCard-based profile import function to their sign-up process.

In the real world

To contribute to the next issue, please edit the wiki page. Thanks!