Microformats.org recently celebrated its seventh anniversary.
In case you’ve been too busy snowboarding the Alps to keep up, Microformats are simple, but incredibly useful, little HTML extensions that give your website superpowers.
You might, for example, use Microformats to expand your basic HTML markup to denote events, blog posts, reviews or address book entries. The extra markup makes your site more meaningful to both humans and search-engine spiders.
Seven years ago when it was first dreamed up there was nothing quite like Microformats. Now there are several other ways to add semantic meaning to your code — like HTML5 microdata or RDFa (if you’re a masochist) — but Microformats.org has managed to outlast numerous other attempts at the same idea, even attempts from big companies like Google.
Much of Microformats’ success lies with its very simple founding principle — humans first, machines second. And success it has had. According to the Web Data Commons, as of 2012, 70 percent of websites using structured data are using Microformats to structure it.
That doesn’t mean the community-driven effort is resting on its heels though. In fact Microformats sees its challengers as opportunities to expand — think of Microformats as the Borg of HTML metadata. As founder Tantek Çelik writes on the Microformats blog, “we should document the alternatives as they emerge, do our best to answer the questions posed, and reach out to other communities to find areas of overlap to collaborate. With greater collaboration comes greater interoperability.”
To help get the ball rolling again, Microformats 2 is now ready for testing. The updated version has been in development for several years now and builds on lessons learned from both Microformats and alternatives like microdata and RDFa. Çelik says that Microformats 2.0 is ready for trying out in real world experiments, and points out several real-world examples, including, natch, the Microformats blog.
If you’ve never used Microformats to markup a street address, address book cards or calendar events, head on over to Microformats.org and read through the docs. Also be sure to check out our tutorial on using Microformats in HTML5 (some of the syntax has changed slightly with Microformats 2, but everything is backwards compatible).