Being a fan of the so called Semantic Web and knowing the long way we still have to track to reach it, all the things that takes us a bit closer to it has me on board. So it has been with Microformats, I had played a bit with Structured Blogging before but rapidly moved to what was ended up being known by Microformats for their multipurpose and not just for blogging.
A brief introduction for non-geek persons about Microformats and why they’ll became ever so important: The web is full of information, trapped information, hidden relations, hidden contents, consider for instance a simple news article, a review in a product page, that information is trapped under the rumble of it’s page HTML. Not nice, isn’t it? Through the separation of layout/content we already improved, since we can read each one of those examples hiding the details of the document structure focusing on the information thats important!
Being intelligent beings as we tend to consider ourselves, we have the ability to spot which parts of the information are relevant, if I look at a contact page, I immediately search for something that looks like an address, phone or email contact. It’s something we’re used to. Well the problem raises that when it matters with information we really can’t depend on humans! 😀
To a program reading a regular webpage, all that rumble and layout information, etc. is just the same! That’s were Microformats became essential! They allow us to seemingly “format” that information, so that humans and machines alike are able to extract the REALLY important parts! Microformats are much more than that, but for today’s introduction that the key idea to retain.
After some of the big companies embraced them a few months ago, Microformats seemed to be on the right track for massive adoption, and yesterday the all mighty W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) seems to have given a step the consolidation of Microformats by providing a set of use cases (GRDDL) that provide real-world scenarios and examples of Microformat in use, as they quote it:
GRDDL is the bridge for turning data expressed in an XML format (such as XHTML) into Semantic Web data. With GRDDL, authors transform the data they wish to share into a format that can be used and transformed again for more rigorous applications.
Once data is part of the Semantic Web, it can be merged with other data (for example, from a relational database, similarly exposed to the Semantic Web) for queries, inferences, and conversion to other formats.(…)
I strongly suggest reading some of thew3c use cases:
- Use case #1: Scheduling.
- Use case #2: Single-purpose XML records.
- Use case #3: Aggregating Reviews.
- Use case #4: Digital Libraries and Content Managment.
- Use case #5: Meta powered Wiki.
- Use case #6: XForms.
- Use case #7: XML schemas.
As complementary to the Microformats Website, the nice to have in hand Microformats Cheat Sheet and the book written by John Allsopp: “Microformats: Empowring Your Markup for Web 2.0 “
For people reading this here in the Portuguese quarter I promise that in coming weeks you’ll get your opportunity to learn a bit more about Microformats! enough said! 😉