The Microformats Movement

With the news that Yahoo! fully supports microformats, there are undoubtedly a few questions from the not-so-techy web user. Having had the chance to briefly speak with Tantek about microformats at BarCamp SF this past summer, I can help to clear any misconceptions. If you remember or use vCards, dubbed the electronic business card, you might be familiar with the microformats concept.

microformatsMicroformats help people find information faster as well as easily manipulate and archive that information. For example, if you go to Yahoo! Local and track down a restaurant, you can view the microformat hCard for that restaurant which may include information such as name, address and possibly hours of operation. Microformats can be embedded into any site and are simple HTML-based data formats - it's not an entirely new language or anything.

With the help of microformats in the near future, it will be possible to download an hCard for a restaurant, sync it to your cell phone and have it automatically find directions for you. This is the type of application that microformats allow for. I was about to go in-depth about how to integrate microformats into your site but John Allsopp wrote an excellent piece about microformats on the web development site Think Vitamin.

There are many types of microformats in addition to the hCard. Yahoo! Tech makes use of hReview for their reviews while others are utilizing hResume on their websites.