Tantek Celik – Best Practice With Microformats

Tantek as the Chief Technologist at Technorati has helped shape and define new web standards. In this the fourth session of The Future of Web Apps conference Tantek described the benefits of using standardized Microformats. Microformats are small enhancements to standard HTML tags that help describe and classify the information that is being presented. According to Tantek, a microformat is a small bit of XHTML, a fast and simple way to provide an API. To illustrate this let me describe the Microformat suggested by Google to circumvent comment spammers. Google suggested that links in a blog comments apply a rel attribute with the value of nofollow. Here is an example:

[source:html]
<A href=”some url” rel=”nofollow”>some link</A>
[/source]

Another example of the use of the rel attribute is how a designer can indicate that the link indicates the site’s license.

[source:html]
<A href=”some url” rel=”license”>some link</A>
[/source]

Tantek also describe how easy it is to transform HTML to a vCard. I have worked on a XML to vCard component for work and I can attest the difficulty in understanding RFC 2426, the vCard Spec. The fastest route to support .ics not by reading the RFC 2426 but by using hCard. If I would have known then what I know now I would have bought Google stock and use hCard, a HTML to vCard converter. hCard is a microfromat that can define a contact using nothing more than standard HTML div and span tags with some additional attributes that describe the data. There are several other microformats such as hCalendar, hReview, VoteLinks, XFN, and rel-tag that will be of interest to most developers.

Regarding API design, Tantek recommended to build something simple, which publishers can easily implement, and therefore can spread in the wild.

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