The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Microformats and the semantic web

Microformats are an emerging standard method for making certain types of information on the web more accessible.

In standard web pages, microformats use regular HTML tags to embed a machine-recognizable data format. These data formats include such recurring types of information like addresses, book identifiers, and calendar events, to name a few. The purpose of microformats is to allow mechanical web explorers, such as search engines, to “understand” – or at least properly categorize, the content of your web page.

The use of microformats makes it easier and more likely that search engines will recognize the true relevance of your web information, and deliver it to the right audience.

In short, microformats make your information easier to be found.

The basic tag enclosure for an HTML embeded date microformats is:

<div class=”vevent”></div>

This particular microformat is based upon hCalendar, which is a simple, open, distributed calendaring and events format.

Read the boring details.

As an example, consider the announcement of a national conference on a blog. Without the use of microformats, Google or any other search engine will just see words and links, more or less.

Now, I don’t pretend to understand how the Google search engine works, but I do know that Google Labs is putting resources into developing its calendar system, which is based upon the iCalendar standard, upon which hCalendar is based. Google is generally interested in promoting formatted data in pursuit of its mission to organize all information everywhere.

Using microformats at least increases the likelihood of successfully communicating your information, including specification of the general description, url link, location, start date and time, and end time, of your event.

The intelligent use of microformats required a bit of study and thought, but once the basic template is established it can be reused again and again.

There are other benefits to deploying this technology.


Written by Tom Fox

11/24/2007 at 1:43 pm

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