Picoformats represent an effort being undertaken by Chris Messina and Andy Stack of Mozes to codify various standards and openly pursue a nomenclature and syntax for communicating and executing commands with mobile devices over SMS.
An example application is Dodgeball's use of the at symbol (@) to express checking in to a place.
Using the Microformats process and principles of building block design, our goal is to openly develop a complete syntax for interacting with various mobile services using the characters available on most mobile devices.
- send messages to user mobiles - via SMS, or a small application,
that contains information like appointment times, locations, directions, and contact info. For example, when2where.com reminds users when they need to leave to get to their appointment, so the message may be like:
leave @ 4:35PM ~Dentist Office -> Detroit, MI
where the text itself is simple and readable, but there *may* be an small utility that would parse the @ symbol to add the event to the calendar, the ~ to allow the person to quickly call that contact, or the -> to pull up a Map/directions to the location
- allow users to write messages to query an application - this is
similar to what Mozes has started with notes:
when2where: ?today --- what appointements to I have today new @ 4PM ~Olive Garden -> Novi --- add an appointment
In addition to the obvious mobile device arena, I think picoformats are usable in any context where "markup" is too heavy. For example, I also just put together an IRC bot, whereisbot, that announces user locations as they sign into a channel, or allows people to do:
.whereami, or .whereis <nick> to geolocate other people in a channel.
I want to 'markup' the information, but putting actual XHTML or XML is annoying, since IRC doesn't parse the information at all. So right now the response is:
ajturner: .whereami whereisbot: ajturner is in Northville, MI, US [42.4365 x -83.4884]
So then someone could write a Picoformat parser for X-Chat/Colloquy/other that would parse the [ #### x #### ] and provide a Map url link.