This is not a review of Microformats Made Simple

I’m not going to review Microformats Made Simple here because the author is a friend, I’m mentioned in a few places in the book, and I could not write an unbiased review. Add to that the fact that I think the author is awesomeness electrified, one of the women in tech to keep an eye on, a brilliant front end developer, and my bias shows in an even brighter shade of sunshine.

But I do want to talk about the book. So, accept that I’m biased. My remarks are not presented in a review wrapped up in my normal hReview microformat; there are no affiliate links to the book on Amazon; there is no cover photo. I’m just talking here.

Microformats Made Simple (New Riders, 2009) is by Emily Lewis. The book is exactly what its title says, a source of information and code that make using microformats dead simple to use and easy to understand—all wrapped up in the logic of semantic HTML and web standards.

If you care at all about semantic HTML, SEO, accessible data, reusable content, or web design you need to read this book. I think you do care about those things. I suggest you read the book sitting by your computer, because you are going to want to implement microformats as you read through the chapters. It’s so easy and the benefits are so clear, you can’t read the book and not want to use the information. In many cases you can add microformat data instantly as you see the code examples provided and apply the concepts to your own sites.

When New Riders contacted Emily about writing a book, she indicated that she wanted to use her natural language. She didn’t want to write like a technical writer. I think she set a new standard for an accessible, personal writing style and tone in a technical book. Examples in evidence:

Can I get a “Hell, yeah!” for meaning and semantics?

I’d call it crap, but I’m trying to be dignified here.

So now you know your first compound microformat. Proud? I am. You are already becoming my favorite person.

If you are teaching HTML or any beginning level web development class, you could add microformats to your course with almost no effort by adding various microformats at appropriate moments as students learn new material. This book would guide you in that effort.

My biased opinion is that this is a terrific book.

Useful Links: FTC, font-embedding, microformats

The FTC and their new guidelines at Worker Bees Blog is a round up of all the correctly vetted and fact checked information about the new FTC guidelines for bloggers. If you want the straight story, go there.

Becoming a font-embedding master from Jonathan Snook takes a look at all the aspects of this technique.

A truly excellent presentation from Emily Lewis of A Blog Not Limited is Basics of Microformats. Emily has a book coming very soon titled Microformats Made Simple. She really knows her stuff and can make the presentation sing when she delivers it in person and answers questions along the way. Need a speaker for your conference who can talk about microformats? Here she is.

SXSW: Microformats: A Quiet Revolution

Microformats panel

Jeremy Keith (blurred), Tantek Celik (standing), Glenn Jones, Karsten Januszewski.

Everyone is using microformats, even if we don’t know it.

Keith showed us huffduffer, a site that creates bookmarks for audio information. It is a consumer of microformats. He talked about rel=”me” for pointing out where you exist on the web. Shows relationship of linked to document to current document. Uses rel=”me” from XFN. If you give your URL to huffduffer, then anything tagged with rel=”me” can be called in from your URL and show as links for you. Then huffduffer goes through all your URLs looking for hCards and avatars and pulls them in. Huffduffer rechecks everything every 24 hours. So if you upload a new avatar to Twitter, huffduffer picks it up within a day. He says we already publish our information, so why make people upload it again for each site. He wants to know how people respond to this. Do they like it, have negative reactions, etc?

Karsten is associated with the MIX09 conference. They built oomph.com that uses microformats to pull in information and get content. Firefox operator plugin shows when there is microformat information on a page. Wrote scripts that will work cross browser (without Firefox plugin) to pull in all micorformats on pages. Available at codeflex.com/oomph.

Glenn works for madgex.com. He talked about how microformats can be used with privacy. Privacy can be implemented by allowing people to use rel=”me” with a system where they sign on and agree to disclose more or less information. Uses oauth, that lets you decide how much access you can get to private information. Microformats are a way to aggregate all the information you leave about yourself on sites like delicious, flickr, upcoming., twitter, linked-in, last.fm, and more. (Shades of the privacy discussion from the previous session.) It pulls in hCard information from all those sites.

Yahoo YQL. Tantek called it an API for the web. Send off a URL and get back all sorts of information.

Tantek. Challenges for microformats are localization and  accessibility.  Many issues of localization require hacks for language at this point. They are finding solutions to the localization problems. Screen readers have problems with reading out things like dates in a sensible way. They’ve used span elements to solve this. And they’ve begun to store date and time information separately. He wants people to write test cases and implementations and let them know the results. Links on the microformats.org/wiki.

Questions.

The hReview microformat I use

My history with microformats on this blog has been long and mostly happy. I have great success with the hReview format, which is the one I use most frequently. I use it for book reviews, but it can be used for any type of product review.

I thought it might be nice to share the code. Not that I have anything different from what you might see at microformats.org, but I have adapted it a bit.

Here’s the code for the version I use now. It can be adapted to suit; just use the classes that you see for each element so it retains its microformat identity.

<div class="hreview" id="hreview-summary">
<span class="reviewer vcard">
<span class="fn">Reviewer: NAME HERE</span>  </span>
<span class="type" style="display:none">product</span>
<img alt="photo of 'PRODUCT NAME'" src="PRODUCT PHOTO URL" class="photo" />
<div class="item">
<a class="fn url" href="PRODUCT URL">PRODUCT NAME</a>
</div>
<div class="description">
<p><abbr title="5" class="rating">&#x2605;&#x2605;&#x2605;&#x2605;&#x2605;
</abbr></p>
<p>
WRITE REVIEW HERE
</p>
<p class="summary">Summary: SUMMARY</p>
</div>
</div>

I hand code in the number of stars I want to give using the character entity &#x2605; because I haven’t had good luck with the autogenerated stars. Nor do they look good in Safari unless I use the character entity.

Google is very quick to pick up hReview information, which is why I’m so fond of it.

Useful Links: Twitter hashtags, Imagine Cup, microformats, a CSS presentation

What’s that Hashtag? New glossary of tools for Twitter at Contentious is a good list of links to helpful Twitter tools, including the new site Tagref where you can register a hashtag.

Students will be interested in the Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition, a global Technology Student Competition focused on solving real world issues.. To learn more, start at Web Designer Wall.

Emily Lewis, from A Blog Not Limited, announced a deal with Peachpit to write a microformats book. I know she’s going to do a top notch job, and look forward to being one of her first readers. Emily honored me with a little shout out in the announcement on her blog. I’ve mentioned her work before in a number of places: here, herehere, and  here, as well as there, and there.

Speaking of Emily Lewis, she and co-leader Jason Nakai of the Webuquerque section of the Albuquerque Adobe Users Group gave a program about CSS last night. Here are a few tweets and a photo from the event. One of the tweets includes a link to the presentation.

vdebolt: Coolest thing I learned at #webuquerque tonight was about DustMe Selectors from @jnakai.

about 9 hours ago

queenofgeek: Woo Hoo! I won Dreamweaver CS4 Classroom in a book at the Adobe User Group Meeting! Thanks @webuquerque!

about 9 hours ago

brianarn: Awesome presentation tonight at @webuquerque – wish I could stay for geeks who drink. Hopefully next time! Good stuff!

about 10 hours ago

ashdhart: Link for CSS slideshow http://tinyurl.com/czkhvw #webuquerque

about 10 hours ago

ksilver: #webuquerque @emilylewis is showing some cool css tricks.

about 10 hours ago

ksilver: #webuquerque sounds @jnakai had his full in this project; he suggested to take small steps.

about 10 hours ago

ashdhart: Learning great CSS tips from @emilylewis and @jnakai #webuquerque

about 10 hours ago

ksilver: #webuquerque learning how to cleanup legacy css.

about 10 hours ago

Useful links: purchase behavior, accessibility in a recession, eduWeb conf, and hAccessibility

New Razorfish Data Ties Consumer Social Media Activity To Purchase Behavior about the relationship between social behavior and purchasing decisions concludes,

Clearly this early data reflects our belief that content distribution, especially among social networks, positively impacts a publisher’s monetizable web traffic — which helps explains why ESPN, Hulu, YouTube and the like put such effort into widget distribution. And this is also why retailers and manufactures, of which Amazon.com is clear leader, should be actively creating and distributing value-add widgets across social networks to drive revenue.

Testing times: recession bustin’ accessibility tips from the Opera Developer Network is good reading.

Are you going to the eduWeb Conference? (In July in Chicago.) The eduWeb Conference is an annual event for the higher education community, attracting those who are involved in online strategy, marketing and technology. This includes recruiting, website design/development, CMS, social media, marketing communications and the integration of traditional marketing channels into this new medium.

Microformats, hAccessibility and Moving Forward from A Blog Not Limited offers some pragmatic code examples for an accessibility issue related to the use of the abbr design pattern when expressing dates in microformats.