[microformats-discuss] microformats and semantic HTML best practices

Ryan King ryan at technorati.com
Sun Sep 4 21:59:21 PDT 2005

On Sep 4, 2005, at 2:52 PM, Bryan J Busch wrote:

> ...
> But the Devil's Advocate (who is not me :) might look at the
> explanation for the invention of hCard ("Bloggers can both embed
> vCards directly in their web pages, and style them with CSS to make
> them appear as desired. In addition, hCard enables applications to
> retrieve information about such vCards directly from web pages without
> having to reference a separate file"), and wonder exactly what problem
> is being solved by the adoption of the -format.

The problem is that, thought the data is there, our dumb computers  
can't understand it.

> It's a bonus, to be sure, to be able to automate identity information
> retrieval and conversion, recognizes Mr. Devil's Advocate, but what
> exactly was broken that this is fixing?

Its a bonus to have an Internet, too.

Seriously, I think you're mis-parsing the term 'problem' - its not  
"bad things are happening", but "good things are not happening."

> But that's just an example. The question I'm hoping to answer is
> larger: can a microformat be designed and even implemented when the
> ultimate outcome would be perceived, by some, as trivial?

Sure. Of course, it would by definition, not be worth your time. :D

> Microformats (and I admit I never heard the word before SxSW 2005,
> though I was aware of rel="nofollow" and XFN), were an attractive
> concept to me more for their power in establishing a set of semantic
> HTML best practices, and less for their ability to enable innovative
> web applications. Granted, the two are mostly intertwined (why should
> I use class="vcard"? Oh, you can do *that*? Cool!). Still, as a
> non-application developer, I'd love to have a library of markup
> formats (I guess these would be referred to as "design patterns"?)
> available to me during my work, one that had been designed by a
> community of experts, and not just what I (or even the people I work
> with) thought would be good the first time I came across it.
> So -- and I think I may have just answered my own question, but I'm
> going to send the whole message anyway in case there are nuances still
> to be discovered -- would a group of tags and classes collectively
> meant to describe, say, a page containing lyrics for a specific song
> be considered a "design pattern," since few people are clamoring for a
> way to fix the current problem of finding lyrics online?

That's because you can't find song lyrics online. ;D

> Or, when the time came to build the application that would index such
> pages, would it necessarily be upgraded to the status of microformat,
> or would it not even matter?

I think you're hinting at the right thing here. By nature  
microformats should follow the standard movement from emergent  
practice to standardized behavior. Not every bit of semantic xhtml  
need start its life as a microformat, nor should every bit lead to a  
microformat. Remember, microformats are part of a larger movement  
towards semantic xhtml.


Ryan King
ryan at technorati.com

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