I still haven’t seen a good general session on microformats. I’m thinking it’s because any one given microformat is so simple that you can’t really fill more than about ten minutes talking about it. So this panel was about six or seven different microformats. The format of the panel stunk – I lost track of what was being discussed pretty quickly so I spent the time surfing the microformats website.
The idea of microformats is to adorn visual markup (i.e. xhtml) with semantic information about the data underneath. Probably the best example of this is hCard, the microformat version of vCard. Here’s the markup for my hCard (as produced by the hCard Creator)
<div class="vcard"> <a class="url fn" href="http://devhawk.net">Harry Pierson</a> <div class="org">Microsoft</div> <a class="email" href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a> <div class="adr"> <div class="street-address">One Microsoft Way, 18/2194</div> <span class="locality">Redmond</span>, <span class="region">WA</span> <span class="postal-code">98052</span> </div> <div class="tel">425/705-6045</div> </div>
See how the class attributes provide the semantics for the underlying text? Cool.
I’m beginning to get microformats. At first, I was bothered because I thought they were hijacking the semantics of the class attribute. But I didn’t realize the class attribute could be used for “general purpose processing by user agents”. And the link microformats like XFN and rel-tag are even simpler than hCard.
So again, bad session but cool concept. I really see potential for mashing up Ray Ozzie’s Live Clipboard with microformats.