Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Microformats and The Web Browser as an Information Broker (Firefox 3?)

Category: Browsers

Alex Faaborg, of Mozilla, has written an introduction to Microformats. It is basic stuff, but gets interesting at the very end with his section on The Web Browser as an Information Broker (Firefox 3?):

Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online. This means the contact information you see on a Web site will be associated with your favorite contacts application, events will be associated with your favorite calendar application, locations will be associated with your favorite mapping application, phone numbers will be associated with your favorite VOIP application, etc.

This is going to change the way we interact with data on the Web, and it’s something that I am going to be blogging about all this week, stay tuned.

Microformats are practical, and it would be fantastic to see rich support for them in applications other than those in the know hacking around.

Instead of looking for an “About” link on someones blog, if they have info about themselves tagged, the browser can let us know (as it lets us know that there is an RSS feed).

Posted by Dion Almaer at 8:39 am

4.1 rating from 31 votes


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The concept is great, the implementation sucks.
Microformats shouldn’t use html, better xml, json or something else specifically designed for that purpose.
If browsers are going to implement MF in future versions, they better get together and design MF from the ground up.

Or it will end up being a nightmare in the long run…

Defenders of microformats shut up!
Proponents of alternatives speak up!

Oh well, do whatever you want and fuck up the web!

Comment by scriptkiddie — January 2, 2007

i’m liking W3C’s XHTML2 arbitrary metadata fields


– ad-hoc embedding of any metadata in any layout, no prescribed element order
– no pre-ordained domain-specific attribute limitations
– use URIs to link to anything else, even metadata in other pages
– granularity is down to one DOM element. with the amount a page changes with AJAX, as long as your is still intact youve still got your data
– super-easy to discover/parse. just look for elements with about|property attributes

im using this technique in Tailor to roundtrip triples client/server in heavily-modified client-side DOM and it’s nice to not have to worry about XSLT transforms breaking (GRDDL) or squeezing the data into some archaic microformat concept like ‘contact’ or ‘review’..

Comment by carmen — January 2, 2007


The “arbitrary metadata fields” that we added to XHTML 2 is actually RDFa. Although RDFa was built in parallel with the XHTML 2 specification, it was always intended to be something that could be used with any XML vocabulary. For example, you could add information to an SVG document in exactly the same way as we have done with XHTML 2.

And of course it means that you can use the same technique with XHTML 1.



Comment by Mark Birbeck — January 2, 2007

I see the great potential in this, but it’s about establishing standards after all. Let’s talk about this in 2010 again, k? :)

Comment by Kjell — January 5, 2007

I relly hope that version 3 comes out son.

Comment by jbrock — September 3, 2007

Indeed, there might be big potential in this, but also asking myself when?

Comment by David — September 28, 2007

iam using firefox from the beginning. that would be great addon!

Comment by Jason — October 10, 2007

Waiting for the update. thanks a lot!

Comment by Sam — October 22, 2007

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