Microformats

Microformats

  • Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0
  • John Allsopp
  • Web Development
  • Amazon.co.uk

Microformats were something that I had heard about but never fully understood. When I started this site I noticed that WordPress had XFN support for the blogroll. That’s great, you can tag your relationship with people as part of the link, but what for? The web design podcasts that I listen to kept mentioning microformats and Jeremy Keith was forever mentioning them during the dConstruct 2006 podcasts.

It wasn’t until I tried the tails plugin for Firefox that the idea behind microformats started to make sense. I followed the instructions in the wiki and managed to mark-up the contact page on our companies web-site using hCard. No one was more surprised than me to see it working.

You could learn about microformats just by reading articles on the web but I still prefer the old dead tree format.

The book is a really easy read. John explains how information is displayed on the web to be easily recognisable by humans but completely baffling for machines to make sense of. Everyone who develops for the web nowadays should be using semantic mark-up, keeping styling where it belongs and making sure that web pages validate to some degree. But there hasn’t, in the past, been a way to tag content. This is all explained in the first few chapters. He then talks about inline microformats, like XFN and rel-tag, with just an odd rel or rev attribute added to the mark-up. As you get used to the way that microformats are added to pages they get more complex with hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hResume and hAtom.

The concepts aren’t that difficult to understand. Parts of one microformat are re-used within others so there aren’t a vast amount of tags and classes to remember. John also spends a few pages in each chapter detailing ways of styling the content because, in the end, it still has to look good to us humans.

It’s a really good book on a subject that will move the web, and how we view it’s content, into whole new directions.