Posts filed under ‘microformats’
I read an interesting post recently, ‘So how about using RDFa in Microformats?’ In it, Mark Birbeck talks about combining RDFa and microformats, as opposed to using one or the other exclusively. For an entertaining example, either check the comments on the page or look at a mock-up profile for 24‘s Jack Bauer.
While RDFa is the W3C’s standard method for marking up data for the semantic web, microformats have become the de facto standard, due largely to the present-day implementation. Indeed, I blogged last year about microformats and the Operator extension, with Operator having gone through a few version changes since then, including – had I read the version history properly at the time – RDFa support.
I must admit to being tempted to the readily available methods of viewing microformats markup and running off to see what I could do – after all, it’s adding value by providing an automatic link (via Operator) to a map location or calendar entry of a meeting you’re running, for example. With RDFa, there just isn’t much available to view the marked up data: Semantic Radar (available for Firefox via the add-ons page) has been stuck on version 0.9 since February 2007 with the only other RDFa extension for the browser – imaginatively titled RDFa – on v0.1 and developed by the same party. Interestingly, the person had also made an add-on for detecting FOAF profiles, FOAFox, although it hasn’t been updated since September 2006.
Note: See comments for updated informarion regarding this.
If anybody uses Firefox (I’m sorry I haven’t looked at any other browser support – yet) and is interested in this sort of thing, I’d urge you to try some of these add-ons. It’s surprising how much value can be added with these kind of extensions: imagine a student reading an article about various historical battles and having immediate access (via the Operator extension, for example) to the locations of the battle sites on Google Maps?
If the big search sites follow Yahoo!’s lead in supporting semantic web standards, these methods will be implemented and supported more widely.
Recently, I’ve been looking at microformats, a method of adding semantic markup to existing HTML. I’ve been modifying content in the Metadata pages on the public wiki to provide additional information, which is available via a plug-in such as the Operator extension for Firefox. Offering little or no visual difference, the markup provides increased functionality over standard HTML by enclosing content within named classes.
For example, the front page of the Metadata page shows contact information for me and Phil. Rather than simply offering static content, the information has been wrapped in an hCard (similar to a vcard), so that either of can be easily exported as a contact. Similarly, our university address can be used in a maps application, eg, Google Maps to provide a quick reference point.
I’m quite interested in the perceived benefits of this, as hCalendar can also be used to provide information on events. By having extra information readily available, it can provide the user with enhanced information regarding some sort of event – imagine a SIG meeting page with a generated link to the location on Google Maps, rather than forcing the author to copy-and-paste some horrendously-long URL for users to navigate to themselves? And why not offer the easy import of the event into a user’s calendar application instead of manually adding an entry?
These are extremely simple to create using microformats. I’d be interested to learn of thoughts on including this sort of information on the main public conference page, although there is a problem with using
abbr tags in the wiki, which prevents from being registered correctly and thus means events cannot be exported to a calendar application. They do, however, work in a standard webpage.
There are other formats, such as XOXO for lists and outlines, and rel-tag for author-designated tags. The Google Maps API blog contains a post on microformats from around seven weeks ago which should provide a very brief overview of the benefits within the mapping world.
Do any of you use microformats? Let me know.