[microformats-discuss] Definition of "microformat"?
Tantek Ç elik
tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Sat Sep 17 16:16:03 PDT 2005
I just saw this while catching up on the list.
On 9/15/05 6:49 PM, "Stephen Downes" <stephen at downes.ca> wrote:
> Ryan King wrote:
>> 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
>>> 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"
>>> give many clues to help determine whether a given format qualifies as a
>> I think you've inadvertently hit on the key point here- microformats
>> are a philosophy as much as they are a technology.
> My take:
> "Microformats are descriptions of types of data that can be expressed in
> a consistent manner and which can be part of, or embedded in, larger
> data elements. When the consistent expression of a microformat is
> defined and widely employed, this data may be reliably extracted from
> these larger data elements, thus allowing the microformat data to assist
> in the characterization and indexing of the larger data elements."
> The intent of this definition is two-fold:
> - first, it attempts to capture the idea that microformats are
> descriptive of existing practice - the data *can be* expressed in a
> consistent format, because instances of the data contain information
> that is (more or less) of the same type and structure, but which (in
> actual practice) may not yet be expressed in a consistent manner
> - second, it captures the idea that there is an attempt to represent
> such information in a consistent manner, and describes what the purpose
> of doing so would be
> I hope this definition is useful. I continue to regard this project with
This is an excellent definition Stephen and quite useful.
The one additional distinction I would add is that something about the data
being human-readable/visible and presentable. This helps distinguish
microformats in your definition from "plain" XML and RDF.
"Microformats are descriptions of types of human readable data that can be
expressed in a consistent manner and which can be part of, or embedded in,
larger visible data elements for interchange or presentation. When the
consistent expression of a microformat is defined and widely employed, this
data may be reliably extracted from these larger data elements, thus
allowing the microformat data to assist in the characterization and indexing
of the larger data elements."
More information about the microformats-discuss