Introduction to Microformats
What are Microformats?
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.
More technically, they are items of semantic markup, using just standard "plain old semantic (X)HTML" (i.e. "POSH") with a set of common class-names and "rel" values. They are open and available, freely, for anyone to use.
Why did we come up with microformats?
In short, microformats are the convergence of a number of trends:
- a logical next step in the evolution of web design and information architecture
- a way for people and organisations to publish richer information themselves, without having to rely upon centralized services
- an acknowledgement that (outside of specialist areas) "traditional" metadata efforts have either failed or taken so long to garner any adoption, that a new approach was necessary
- a way to use (X)HTML for data.
The Appeal to Simplicity
- Microformats are a simple effort which has appealed to many frustrated with previous complex efforts. One parallel that can be drawn is to REST in the web services world - for more on REST see suggested reading on REST.
- See: Web Services and the Innovators Dilemma by Justin Leavesley
- A list of some notable users.
- Recent press interviews and articles are also a good introduction.
- See microformat presentations for more background and introductory material on microformats.
- Listen to podcasts about microformats.
- Read the FAQs for general microformat queries.
- More suggested reading
- So you want to implement microformats?
- Sitepoint has a nice introductory tutorial: Microformats - Plugging the Gaps in HTML