Why Microformats

I’ve spent some time on this site commenting on the use of various Indieweb concepts, but I haven’t really touched on Microformats. Microformats just turned 11 years old.

Microformats are human-readable markup that are easily human readable as well as machine readable. They appear as classes attached to HTML elements in webpages. The most popular alternatives to Microformat markup are things like schema.org, RDFa, etc.

The mistake people make is that it is overly technical. The vocabulary of the current iteration of the standard is simple. The below is a simple example. For example, h-card is the vocabulary for marking up people, organizations, and places. The below is a minimal h-card identifying name and associated URL.

<div class="h-card">
<h3 class="p-name">David Shanske</h3>
<a class="u-url" href="https://david.shanske.com">Website></a>

Then there is h-entry, which is used for individual posts on this site, or any episodic content. It is a equally easy, though like h-card, you can add more elements.

<div class="h-entry">
<time class="dt-published" datetime="2016-06-22T02:34:16-0400">June 22, 2016</time> <p class="e-content">This is my content</p> </div>

And so on. Not only does it identify…what is the content, what is the publish date, etc. in a way a human could realistically read enough to mark it up, it can be parsed and read by a computer. It is easy, if you understand HTML enough to read it, how to mark up the elements.

And then come the advantages. If parsers can read the elements of your site, they can interpret your intent. The community has developed vocabulary to indicate many relevant things, and put out programs, sites, and in my case, WordPress plugins that take this data and turns it into things like: ‘likes’, meaningful comments, event RSVPs, etc.

I’ve been posting articles on adding Microformats to a WordPress site. Once added, the site can be properly parsed, and can be used to do these things. How do I know? My site already does them.



David Shanske

My day job is in training for an airline. I also develop Indieweb WordPress plugins so that others can take control of their online identity.

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