What are micro formats?
June 23, 2005 1:25 AM   Subscribe

Can someone please explain in plain English what micro formats are? There doesn't seem to be anything out there that explains, at an entry level, what the latest shiny thing on the internet is.
posted by TheDonF to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Well, there is an explanation, sort of. But if that doesn't work for you, try this:

The basic idea of a microformat is to have HTML or XHTML which, when viewed in a browser, is perfectly valid and displays normally but which, to a program writen to understand the microformat, contains additional information.

Microformats make use of things you're allowed to do with (X)HTML, like "class" and "id" attributes, and creating new values for the "rel" and "rev" attributes on links, to add that information into a page. For example, XFN uses things like rel="friend" and rel="colleague" to describe your relationship to a person you link to. So long as you define what these relationships mean (with a document called a "profile"), it's perfectly legal to do this in HTML and XHTML.

The tags Metafilter uses are a microformat, too; they use rel="tag" to mark a particular link as a "tag" describing what a post is about.

For a more complex example, there's a microformat called hReview which is meant for writing reviews of movies, books, restaurants or really anything you like. Again, it's perfectly ordinary and valid (X)HTML when viewed in a browser, but a program which understands hReview could quickly scan a page or an entire site, pull out all the reviews and display any or all parts of them you wanted to see.

Check out the microformats wiki for examples of some other microformats and what they do.
posted by ubernostrum at 3:19 AM on June 23, 2005

Thanks for that. I'd heard about XFN a good while back but never really saw the point of it. You might have seen Microformats.org, which has just launched in the last day or so and looks like it could be quite useful.
posted by TheDonF at 1:23 AM on June 24, 2005

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