what-are-microformats

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__NOTOC__
__NOTOC__
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:If this is your first visit, please see the [[introduction]] page.
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First time visitors, see the [[introduction]] page first.
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= What are microformats? =
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<h1>What are microformats?</h1>
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The current definition on the [http://microformats.org home page] says:
The current definition on the [http://microformats.org home page] says:
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards.</blockquote>
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger">Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards.</blockquote>
originally written by Dan Cederholm with help from Tantek Çelik for the launch of [http://microformats.org microformats.org] on June 20th, 2005.
originally written by Dan Cederholm with help from Tantek Çelik for the launch of [http://microformats.org microformats.org] on June 20th, 2005.
== From The Mailing List ==
== From The Mailing List ==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger">Microformats are simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development.</blockquote>
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">Microformats are simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development.</blockquote>
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from someone on the microformats-discuss mailing list.  Please link/cite if you know the origin of this.
from someone on the microformats-discuss mailing list.  Please link/cite if you know the origin of this.
== More Specifically From The Mailing List ==
== More Specifically From The Mailing List ==
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More precisely, microformats can be
More precisely, microformats can be
defined as:
defined as:
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger">
<pre>
<pre>
   simple conventions
   simple conventions
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== Chris Messina ==
== Chris Messina ==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger">
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">
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Microformats are simple codes that you can use to identify specific kinds of data, like people or events, in your webpages.
Microformats are simple codes that you can use to identify specific kinds of data, like people or events, in your webpages.
</blockquote>
</blockquote>
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== Tantek Çelik ==
== Tantek Çelik ==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger"><p>Microformats are the way to publish and share information on <strong>the web with higher fidelity</strong>.</p><p>For example, if a company wanted their <strong>contact information</strong> to be easily found and shared, they would publish it with [[hcard|hCard]]. Similarly if an organization is planning a series of events and wants more people to know about them and add them to their calendars, then they would publish their <strong>events listing</strong> with [[hcalendar|hCalendar]].  For advocacy groups, whenever they take a position on some political leader, some piece of legislation etc., if they wanted their <strong>evaluations/reviews/ratings</strong> of those people/laws to be more easily found and passed around, they would publish such opinions with [[hreview|hReview]].  For all of these, to make it easier, publishers can use [[implementations|tools and services that support microformats]].</p><p>The key here is that microformats are simple/easy enough that the any organizations own <strong>web authors/designers can easily add them</strong> in themselves. Adding microformats is easier than publishing an RSS feed for example. You don't have to be a programmer. Anyone with decent (X)HTML+CSS authoring/writing skills can use microformats.  Pretty much anyone who is literate can be taught how to author HTML+CSS, and thus microformats makes use of very widely available skill sets.</p></blockquote>
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic"><p>Microformats are the way to publish and share information on <strong>the web with higher fidelity</strong>.</p><p>For example, if a company wanted their <strong>contact information</strong> to be easily found and shared, they would publish it with [[hcard|hCard]]. Similarly if an organization is planning a series of events and wants more people to know about them and add them to their calendars, then they would publish their <strong>events listing</strong> with [[hcalendar|hCalendar]].  For advocacy groups, whenever they take a position on some political leader, some piece of legislation etc., if they wanted their <strong>evaluations/reviews/ratings</strong> of those people/laws to be more easily found and passed around, they would publish such opinions with [[hreview|hReview]].  For all of these, to make it easier, publishers can use [[implementations|tools and services that support microformats]].</p><p>The key here is that microformats are simple/easy enough that the any organizations own <strong>web authors/designers can easily add them</strong> in themselves. Adding microformats is easier than publishing an RSS feed for example. You don't have to be a programmer. Anyone with decent (X)HTML+CSS authoring/writing skills can use microformats.  Pretty much anyone who is literate can be taught how to author HTML+CSS, and thus microformats makes use of very widely available skill sets.</p></blockquote>
+
From an IRC conversation 2006-06-06 which helped "knowprose" grok microformats.  Update 2006-06-07: knowprose's blog post [http://www.knowprose.com/node/15844 Making Sense of Microformats: Have Data, Will Find It].
From an IRC conversation 2006-06-06 which helped "knowprose" grok microformats.  Update 2006-06-07: knowprose's blog post [http://www.knowprose.com/node/15844 Making Sense of Microformats: Have Data, Will Find It].
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic"><p>microformats are carefully designed (X)HTML class names that extend the semantics of (X)HTML and enable authors to publish higher semantic fidelity content such as people, events, reviews, etc.</p></blockquote>
+
<blockquote style="font-size:larger"><p>microformats are carefully designed (X)HTML class names that extend the semantics of (X)HTML and enable authors to publish higher semantic fidelity content such as people, events, reviews, etc.</p></blockquote>
From an IRC conversation 2006-07-28 with tcaspers on irc.freenode.net/#wasp.
From an IRC conversation 2006-07-28 with tcaspers on irc.freenode.net/#wasp.
-
 
== Drew McLellan ==
== Drew McLellan ==
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+
<blockquote style="font-size:larger">Microformats are a way of attaching extra meaning to the information published on a web page. This extra semantic richness works alongside the information already presented, and can be used for the benefit of people and computers. This is mostly done through adding special pre-defined names to the class attribute of existing XHTML markup.</blockquote>
-
<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">Microformats are a way of attaching extra meaning to the information published on a web page. This extra semantic richness works alongside the information already presented, and can be used for the benefit of people and computers. This is mostly done through adding special pre-defined names to the class attribute of existing XHTML markup.</blockquote>
+
from an IRC conversation
from an IRC conversation
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== Joe Andrieu ==
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== Aaron Gustafson ==
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Simply put: "Microformats are a codification of convention." -- [http://easy-reader.net Aaron Gustafson]
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic"><p>Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon (X)HTML and CSS.</p>
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<p>The current blurb leaves me wondering "But <strong>what</strong> are they?".  I remember this feeling from the first time reading through the microformats wiki. The [http://microformats.org/about/ about page] goes on from the opening blurb to state what microformats are, what microformats are not, and the microformats principles.</p>
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<p>All great descriptions... Yet still leaving me wondering the most basic level of concreteness: <strong>What are they?</strong> Javascript libraries? An XML vocabulary? PHP tools?  The most specific language is "data format standard."  Is that like HTML?  Is it just an RFC for the next web thing? </p>
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<p>Of course, I know the answers to all of these things, now.  But it took me a while to get there.</p>
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<p>This suggestion attempts to concretize the "existing and widely adopted standards". It's a bit shorter and to my eye a bit clearer and more powerful.</p>
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</blockquote>
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== From The Wiki ==
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There are unsettling faults with the definitions and explanations given. The writing seems to be a rallying cry for proponents - clever wording, impressive noun-phrases. But it explains nothing to those unfamiliar with microformats. Imagine giving this sort of explanation off-paper: "A Microformat? What do you mean?" one asks. "Well," the other replies, as he jumps onto the nearest table, his voice excited and booming, a crowd gathering around him:
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<blockquote style="font-style:italic">
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Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns (e.g. XHTML, blogging). [...]
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</blockquote>
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Ah, I see now. So it's something for people to use. Something simple and intuitive, like a steering wheel. Something open, easily changed by anyone, like a wiki or linux. A data format, like rtf, xml, or pdf. It obeys unspecified standards, but is so much more! It's based on something that already works. It doesn't attempt to solve anything it doesn't need to. It dynamically changes to comply with how I'm behaving at the moment... Yes. Yes! This is what I need! My living text streaming-based DOM machine/user -interface will never be the same, now that I have Microformats! Er... right?
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">
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Microformats are conventions for marking up commonly-encountered data (such as links, contact information, and calendar events) in established languages such as HTML. By using standardized structures, class names, and attribute values, information becomes more accessible and useful to both humans and computers.
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</blockquote>
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I would appreciate if someone would copy this to the mailing list, since I don't wish to sign up, but would like this to be remedied. [[User:M|M]] 23:52, 23 Aug 2006 (PDT)
 
==Alok Jain==
==Alok Jain==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">microformats are evolving frameworks for how to present commonly used data items. For e.g. hCard microformat provides  framework to capture a person's details First, middle, last name,company, contact info etc.</blockquote>
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger">microformats are evolving frameworks for how to present commonly used data items. For e.g. hCard microformat provides  framework to capture a person's details First, middle, last name,company, contact info etc.</blockquote>
In my view this is doing two things:
In my view this is doing two things:
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[http://www.iPrincipia.com Alok Jain]
[http://www.iPrincipia.com Alok Jain]
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== Dave Sanford ==
 
 +
== Dave Sanford ==
Chris asked me to contribute my 'definition,' although I refer to it as a distillation:
Chris asked me to contribute my 'definition,' although I refer to it as a distillation:
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==Andy Mabbett==
==Andy Mabbett==
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Here's my re-write of the current opening blurb, from:
Here's my re-write of the current opening blurb, from:
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*Say what purpose microformats serve
*Say what purpose microformats serve
*Use plain language
*Use plain language
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Finally: don't use italics for whole paragraphs, it's harder for people (such as some with dyslexia or other cognitive disabilities) to read.
 
== Guillaume Lebleu ==
== Guillaume Lebleu ==
 +
<blockquote style="font-size:larger">Microformats are simple standardized annotations of content available on the Web that provide a practical solution today to more productive and decentralized Web-based information search and sharing. </blockquote>
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">Microformats are simple standardized annotations of content available on the Web that provide a practical solution today to more productive and decentralized Web-based information search and sharing. </blockquote>
+
<blockquote style="font-size:larger">In other words, Microformats allow you today to copy/paste information from a Web page, for instance someone's contact information from their blog to your address book, instead of manually retyping it. Eventually, microformats will allow anyone to make the information they publish easily sharable and searchable (products, events, resume, etc.) without having to duplicate and maintain up-to-date their data in centralized databases.</blockquote>
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;font-style:italic">In other words, Microformats allow you today to copy/paste information from a Web page, for instance someone's contact information from their blog to your address book, instead of manually retyping it. Eventually, microformats will allow anyone to make the information they publish easily sharable and searchable (products, events, resume, etc.) without having to duplicate and maintain up-to-date their data in centralized databases.</blockquote>
 
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== Richard Quick ==
 
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This isn't a definition of microformats, it's more of an explanation of them...
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Every web page contains information.  Most websites have a contact page, with a phone number, email address and possibly a street address.  Others have reviews of products, books or CDs.</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Microformats are a way to label certain information, like contact details or reviews, so it can easily be extracted from your web page by a suitable computer program or web-based application.</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Although microformats exist to make it easier for computers to extract information from web pages, they’re designed to be easy to use by people.  For example, many microformats simply involve adding certain class names to an HTML tag (others use rel attributes, for example).</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">If a web page uses HTML on its own, it's very difficult (bordering on impossible in some cases) to write a computer program which can examine the web page, work out what kind of information is on the page, and extract that information.</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">For example, look at the following address:
 
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<pre>John Smith
 
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1 Seaview Lane,
 
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Mousehole,
 
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Cornwall,
 
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UK.</pre></blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">How can a computer program work out what kind of information the word "[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mousehole Mousehole]" is?  Is it a town?  Is it a country?  Is it a hole where mice live?</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Obviously, it's going to be pretty difficult.  However, using the '''[[hCard]]''' microformat, you can label each piece of information so that it's obvious to a computer what kind of information the word "Mousehole" is.
 
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<pre><div class="vcard">
 
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<span class="fn">John Smith</span>,
 
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<div class="adr">
 
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  <div class="street-address">1 Seaview Lane</div>,
 
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  <span class="locality">Mousehole</span>,
 
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  <span class="region">Cornwall</span>,
 
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  <span class="country-name">UK</span>
 
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</div>
 
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</div></pre></blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">So is that all microformats are?  A bunch of class names (and other similarly easy-to-use attributes)?</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Yes, that's basically all they are.</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">They key is that everybody uses the same class names (and other attributes).  In the example above, you can see that the div around word "Moushole", has "locality" as its class name.  Of course, "city", "town" or "village" would all have been equally suitable class names to use, however by standardizing on one specific class name it makes it easy to write a computer program which can examine a web page, check for any microformats and then extract the information from that page.</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Also, in the above example you might have noticed the following code:
 
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<pre><div class="vcard"></pre>
 
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Why have we used "vcard" when the name of the microformat is hCard?</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Well, another important feature of microformats is that they don't try to reinvent the wheel.  </blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">There was already an existing standard for labelling contact details on desktop computer, the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vcard V Card].  V Cards are small files containing your contact information, which you can send to people you know.  They can then import those contact details into any piece of software that supports the V Card format, for example Outlook Express.</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">Rather than coming up with a whole new way of labelling contact information, the hCard microformat uses the same structure as V Cards.  (the "h" in hCard stands for hypertext, by the way).</blockquote>
 
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">And that's pretty much it.  Microformats are a way of labelling information on web pages, so that it can be extracted by a computer program or web application.  They're designed to be easy to use for people, and where possible, they are based in existing standards used elsewhere.</blockquote>
 
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[[User:RichQuick|Richard Quick]].  Note: This text (with minor alterations) now appears in [http://ineasysteps.com/books/details/?1840783141 Web Design in easy steps]
 
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*Superb plain-language intro! [[User:AndyMabbett|AndyMabbett]] 01:02, 26 Oct 2006 (PDT)
 
== BenWest ==
== BenWest ==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">
<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">
A microformat is a specific collection of names, values, and accompanying structure defined through rigorous market research intended to consider pervasive use of semantic html that increases data fidelity in HTML-borne data widely distributed on the web.
A microformat is a specific collection of names, values, and accompanying structure defined through rigorous market research intended to consider pervasive use of semantic html that increases data fidelity in HTML-borne data widely distributed on the web.
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== DerrickPallas ==
== DerrickPallas ==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">microformats are semantics with momentum, a codification of what everyone did anyway. They are what works, written down.</blockquote>
<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">microformats are semantics with momentum, a codification of what everyone did anyway. They are what works, written down.</blockquote>
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== Add Yours Here ==
== Add Yours Here ==
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">microformats are...(insert your definition here)
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<blockquote style="font-size:larger;">microformats are...</blockquote>
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</blockquote>
written by You.
written by You.
 +
 +
'''Note:''' feedback on the existing definition or those on this page can be found in the [[definition-feedback]].  Please add feedback there (rather than inline here).
== See Also ==
== See Also ==
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* [[what-can-you-do-with-microformats]]
* [[what-can-you-do-with-microformats]]
* [[faq]]
* [[faq]]
 +
* [[definition-feedback]]
== Translation ==
== Translation ==
* [[what-are-microformats-fr|c'est quoi les microformats]] (fr)
* [[what-are-microformats-fr|c'est quoi les microformats]] (fr)

Revision as of 23:28, 23 May 2007


First time visitors, see the introduction page first.

What are microformats?

Contents


Launch Definition

The current definition on the home page says:

Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards.

originally written by Dan Cederholm with help from Tantek Çelik for the launch of microformats.org on June 20th, 2005.

From The Mailing List

Microformats are simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development.

from someone on the microformats-discuss mailing list. Please link/cite if you know the origin of this.

More Specifically From The Mailing List

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

from someone(s) on the microformats-discuss mailing list. Please link/cite if you know the origin of this.

(I'm pretty sure Ernie kicked off this particular definition, and I think helped a little, but I don't remember the specifics. -Tantek)


Chris Messina

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

Tantek Çelik

Microformats are the way to publish and share information on the web with higher fidelity.

For example, if a company wanted their contact information to be easily found and shared, they would publish it with hCard. Similarly if an organization is planning a series of events and wants more people to know about them and add them to their calendars, then they would publish their events listing with hCalendar. For advocacy groups, whenever they take a position on some political leader, some piece of legislation etc., if they wanted their evaluations/reviews/ratings of those people/laws to be more easily found and passed around, they would publish such opinions with hReview. For all of these, to make it easier, publishers can use tools and services that support microformats.

The key here is that microformats are simple/easy enough that the any organizations own web authors/designers can easily add them in themselves. Adding microformats is easier than publishing an RSS feed for example. You don't have to be a programmer. Anyone with decent (X)HTML+CSS authoring/writing skills can use microformats. Pretty much anyone who is literate can be taught how to author HTML+CSS, and thus microformats makes use of very widely available skill sets.

From an IRC conversation 2006-06-06 which helped "knowprose" grok microformats. Update 2006-06-07: knowprose's blog post Making Sense of Microformats: Have Data, Will Find It.

microformats are carefully designed (X)HTML class names that extend the semantics of (X)HTML and enable authors to publish higher semantic fidelity content such as people, events, reviews, etc.

From an IRC conversation 2006-07-28 with tcaspers on irc.freenode.net/#wasp.

Drew McLellan

Microformats are a way of attaching extra meaning to the information published on a web page. This extra semantic richness works alongside the information already presented, and can be used for the benefit of people and computers. This is mostly done through adding special pre-defined names to the class attribute of existing XHTML markup.

from an IRC conversation

Aaron Gustafson

Simply put: "Microformats are a codification of convention." -- Aaron Gustafson


Alok Jain

microformats are evolving frameworks for how to present commonly used data items. For e.g. hCard microformat provides framework to capture a person's details First, middle, last name,company, contact info etc.

In my view this is doing two things:

Alok Jain

Dave Sanford

Chris asked me to contribute my 'definition,' although I refer to it as a distillation:

“Microformats are a way of identifying and labeling classes of commonly used data that make it easier for humans or computers to locate or distribute such information on websites.”

Andy Mabbett

Here's my re-write of the current opening blurb, from:

Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards.

to:

Microformats are a way of adding simple markup to human-readable data items such as events, contact details or locations, on web pages, so that the information in them can be extracted by software and indexed, searched for, saved, cross-referenced or combined.

Which can be followed by:

More technically, they are items of semantic markup, using just standard (X)HTML with a set of common class-names. They are open and available, freely, for anyone to use.

Principles:

Guillaume Lebleu

Microformats are simple standardized annotations of content available on the Web that provide a practical solution today to more productive and decentralized Web-based information search and sharing.
In other words, Microformats allow you today to copy/paste information from a Web page, for instance someone's contact information from their blog to your address book, instead of manually retyping it. Eventually, microformats will allow anyone to make the information they publish easily sharable and searchable (products, events, resume, etc.) without having to duplicate and maintain up-to-date their data in centralized databases.


BenWest

A microformat is a specific collection of names, values, and accompanying structure defined through rigorous market research intended to consider pervasive use of semantic html that increases data fidelity in HTML-borne data widely distributed on the web. Microformats are more than one of these, eg "hcard and hcal are microformats."

DerrickPallas

microformats are semantics with momentum, a codification of what everyone did anyway. They are what works, written down.

Add Yours Here

microformats are...(insert your definition here)

written by You.

Note: feedback on the existing definition or those on this page can be found in the definition-feedback. Please add feedback there (rather than inline here).

See Also

Translation

what-are-microformats was last modified: Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

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