[microformats-discuss] Definition of "microformat"?

Ryan King ryan at technorati.com
Thu Sep 15 13:57:47 PDT 2005

On Sep 15, 2005, at 1:26 PM, DuCharme, Bob (LNG-CHO) wrote:

> I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a good definition  
> of the
> word "microformat". Most attempted explanations, like
> <http://microformats.org/about/> http://microformats.org/about/,   
> reads more
> like marketing literature discussing its philosophy. Saying that  
> it's "a way
> of thinking about data" or that it's "an evolutionary revolution"  
> doesn't
> give many clues to help determine whether a given format qualifies  
> as a
> microformat.

I think you've inadvertently hit on the key point here- microformats  
are a philosophy as much as they are a technology.

> The Wikipedia definition echoes the microformats.org/about one by  
> calling
> microformats a "set of data formats", but I can't find a definition  
> of what
> constitutes membership in that set--that is, a definition of the  
> singular
> form of the term.
> Here's my attempt: A microformat is the extension of a subset of a  
> popular
> XML schema to incorporate semantic information for a particular  
> domain,
> thereby allowing the use of information from that domain with tools  
> built
> around the popular schema.

Not quite. Microformats may be an adaptation of another schema (XML  
or otherwise), but need not be. They tend to be adaptations, because  
of the principle of reuse.

My definition of a microformat would be:

Formats build by along the lines of the microformats principles  

And, personally, I prefer a little bit of vagueness here, for several  

1. People don't realize there's an entire philosophy (and  
methodology) behind microformats- it is preferable that they grok the  
ideas, and not just some formula.

2. We're still trying to figure out what *exactly* microformats are. :D


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