File Under: Programming

Microformats are Awesome, Now Put Them to Work for Your Site

Micro
We’ve written a good deal about Microformats and now they’re are beginning to show up all over the web. Microformats will likely be an essential element of the open social web and already the Tails and Operator add-ons for Firefox allow you leverage microformats for easy address collecting and more.

But for many people Microformats remain a vague and nebulous idea — yes, there’s these standard formats for marking up addresses and stuff, but what can I do with them?

In fact, Alex Russell commented on yesterday’s piece about the future of web standards saying, “trying to encourage adoption of conventions only improves things marginally or in orthogonal ways… without something like Operator, Microformats are just tasty nuggets for search engines to chew on.”

Russell has a point and more tools like Operator would certainly be nice, but microformats data can be used today in all sorts of tangible and interesting ways.

Simon Willison has put a nice tutorial over at 24 Ways demonstrating how you can use JavaScript to push and pull microformats data on your own site. Willison gives a real world example by extracting address data and plotting restaurant locations on a Google Map.

For simplicity sake Willison uses a static HTML file marked up with microformat data for seven restaurants. He then process the data with JQuery to output a Google map with all his favorite restaurants in one area.

However, there’s no need to create a flat file, you could easily pull in data from the ever growing number of sites that use microformats (for restuarants Yelp comes to mind, but their API is saddled with all sorts of use restrictions so you might need to look elsewhere).

While microformat support on the browser side would certainly increase their potential usefulness, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of interesting things you can do using the tools available today.

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