Notes: Microformats: Evolving The Web

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

Moderator: Tantek Çelik Chief Technologist, Technorati

TC: We have a version of the speaker's page marked up with hCard format. What you would see is the whole list of contacts added to the address book. If you have a phone you have at least two examples of a vCard compatible device.

hCard is the microformat for contact information. The vCard items are added to the existing markup as classnames. Microformats are more than just really good classnames.

Principles to keep things "micro"
Process emphasises getting real
Community minimizes duplicates.

If you are trying to establish a standard then you need to interoperate.

Micro Formats process.

  1. Pick as specific problem and define it.
  2. Research and document current web publishing behavior.
  3. Document existing formats in the problem area. (Don't re-invent the wheel)
  4. Brainstorm with implied schema/reuse name
  5. Iterate within the community

Progress 2004-2006

New distributed social network
XOXO and Vote links

In 2006 another 15+ microformats with many more in development.


IRC Email blog and wiki. We wanted to keep all of the discussion publicly available. Lets put all of the specs out there in the open so people can

EXERCISE: Create your own hCard, use the hCard creator or use the authoring tips to markup your contact info.
Publish it on your site add a link to new examples add yourself to this session's attendees.

MNF: When I heard about microformats I got excited because I am lazy and impatient. With the semantic web you have to mark everything up twice which I don't want to do. Within Yahoo! I did a little informal talk to try out microformats on a site to see how it went. I was working on the movie site so we used the hReview format. The tails firefox extension detects microformats on the page. Double clicking the extension icon in the status bar you can see the reviews. The hreview microformat has lots of information in it, which wasn't all-useful so we just used part of it. was one of the first that used Hcalendar before it was owned by Yahoo! In Europe we will be releasing a local search and all of the results will be marked up with hcards. Upcoming the information is marked up using microformats too.

JK: I have only one page compared to Norm's millions. Coming up to this year I wanted to record the event that I would be visiting. I use upcoming and could have just used the upcoming API. The SXSW site didn't have the events marked up in hcal. I wanted to get geo information in there. Yahoo has a geocoder API you can use. So now I have hcal and geocodes so I can add this to the Google Maps API. I added some JS so I can move the maps around to show the parties. To start I didn't allow for the time zones. So I had to set up the time difference. On Tantek's recommendations I cleaned it up and added the hcards. I also added the "hugs and kisses" XOXO format.

TC: Have you ever created a ". ics" file on your site
JK: I've created a vcard for download
TC: Did you have any issues with say the mimetypes?
JK: I might have had issues but I didn't discover them.

TC: hCard to vCard converter with the click of one link you can get all 388 speakers added to your address book along with their URLS. If the speaker list is updated you only need to update the page rather than a separate file.

CM: Flock and microformats. How does Flock see the web? We see it as an event stream as a social space (a place for people to talk to each other meet up) as a data store (Housing data in pages with the markup).

Lucene is embedded into every page locally. It has no Idea what the content is but when you add microformats this give the content more meaning. When you build in API support this allows you to send the data off to feeds etc. we can index all of these thins blogposts list s of people and their blogs contact info and reviews, events. Parties and booze at SXSW. is where you can download the browser. The tails extension has been ported to flock (flocktails). Technorati uses microformats so all of the sites that are in the popular list you can see the site's authors contact info via tails. This isn't indexed yet but will be eventually.

Questions from the audience.

Q: how do you deal with filtering accuracy of info?
CM: Over time with our favorite system. The star buttons allows you to add info to your favorites. Using favorites helps to validate the data that you are collecting. Flock auto subscribes to feeds it would be good if flock automatically subscribed to hcards too.

Q: Is this data stored locally or can you also synchronise the data as I have 5 computers.
CM: At the moment you can sync bookmarks but in the future you will be able to synchronise everything.

Q: Ray Ozzy? web clipboard technology where he took info from one webpage and added it to another. Is the tech proprietary.
TC: The markup is all Vcard and hCard formats and nothing proprietary.

Q: Publishing hcards and hcals is easy but pulling the information back out is not so easy.
TC: What was different with microformats is that we made everything very easy to publish. This means it's more work to consume the content. It also means people can publish opensource libraries. There is an implementation section of microformats, or has lots of stuff to help you consume microformats. For example to import a whole load of contact data like the example earlier.

Q: Has any of this been used in Facebook?
MNF: In the US they're not looking into it. In Europe we're just mental.
CM: We've been working with Flickr to add hCards so you can take your buddy list to a new service. The blogging tool in flock support tags but we'd like to extend it to use microformats. Claim id has hCards to represent all of the services that you use. has all of the sites that have added hCard microformats. Example Avon the make-up company has added 40000 hcards.

Q: Can you talk about structure blogging?
TC: they are now focusing on implementation there's a WordPress Plug-in checkout they also support hAdam.

Q: Have you heard about the term "Roach Motel" this seem like an opportunity to break free of proprietary stuff?
TC: We couldn't agree more. Microformats allows sites to not become Roach Motels and to keep

Q: What about Google Base? Roach Motel?
TC: Is Google base going to open up their service to be crawled? They are saying that they may open it up in the future.

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