Microformats - Next Big Thing or Next Big WTF? (Or possibly even both? *shudder*)

  • Hi all,

    apparently there is yet another fancy new "web 2.0" technology making the rounds at the moment, this time called "microformats".
    It basically wants to be a "new" approach to the old "semantic web" problem: How to encode content on the internet in away that not only humans but computer applications as well can make use of it. After having first read the name in an article and now having got some more information, I'm really torn.

    On the one hand, the overall idea seems fascinating to me (thoughnot really that new): Instead of One Language to Rule Them all, they promote a large set of tiny, simple but combineable languages. Each language is supposed to solve exactly one problem and each problem is supposed to be solved by exactly one language.

    On the other hand however, there is the implementation. If, like me, the first thing that came to your mind after "internet" and "combineable languages" was "xml namespaces", you're wrong. For some reason those are avoided almost purposefully. Instead, arbitrary XHTML elements that happen to have no effect on the visible presentation in most cases are somehow stuffed with metadata. I'm currently getting a headache if I even attempt to read their design guidelines.

    So now I want to hear your opinion about this. I'm no professional progammer (yet), so I'm wondering. Is this the future and I'm just too much of a purist for The Real World (tm) or are those guys inventing the wheel again?



  • Which chapter of The Pragmatic Programmer was [i]Keep Knowledge in Plain Text[/i], anybody?  Simple formats for doing simple things are great.  It just takes some careful design to ensure that the language/format is flexible enough to do what it needs to do thoroughly.  While there are XML parsers out there all over the place, writing a parser for these microformats is trivial.  I use them all the time, because UNIX is literally filled with them.  It's not a new idea, really.

  • XML, JSON, and CSV.

    Any other format is just begging to cause problems.  CSV isn't extensible the way XML and JSON.  With the use of Ajax, XML and JSON make the most sense, because there are built in parsers for them already.

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