Friday, July 27, 2007


In an earlier post, I discussed the potential of the Semantic Web. I wrote how the problem with current web content is it cannot be distinguished by machines and that the goal of the Semantic Web is for machines to be able to read web content and understand at least some of it and then be able to prioritize info and automate tasks for us as a result.

One of the comments to this posting, by Stephen Fetter, pointed out that adding this level of meaning would no doubt complicate web publishing for non-professionals and remove the egalitarian nature of web publishing.

Then to prove Stephen's point, I learned on Wednesday of a growing technique to add semantic meaning to web content, that even I, an OLD pro, found initially intimidating.

Prior to reading a SitePoint article called Microformats: More Meaning from Your Markup I hadn't heard of microformats, though the project is more than two years old.

Microformats are special attributes for various types of data, for instance for event info (date, place, etc.), for people info (name, address, etc.) and others. The attributes are added to standard HTML tags.

To assuage our concerns that we'll have to do web coding completely different, the microformat gurus at assure us microformats are:
Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns

I was still a bit intimidated until I tried's code generator and 1) was impressed at their tool doing the work for me 2) noticed the code it wrote was not very complicated.

Here's my contact information written with microformats:
Glen Farrelly
Eglington Ave.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This hCard was created with the hCard creator.

Now if web publishing software like Dreamweaver just came built in with this level of support, then non-programmers would be more able and more likely to use it.

Microformats have a long way to go both in terms of people coding with it and applications using it - but it offers a lot of potential to save time and greatly improve web content.

No comments: