Archive for the 'structured blogging' Category

Richard MacManus gets microformats wrong

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Richard MacManus is talking about how to design with microcontent. There’s few quotable bits that I have to disagree with:

XML has largely lived up to its promise of being the data format of choice for the Web 2.0 era.

Eh, don’t think so. I wasn’t a web professional when XML first hit the scene, but the OG’s have told me all about this potential. I can’t help but contrast Richard’s point with Simon St. Laurent’s:

XML has occasionally found its way to the Web, but it’s hard to remember now that once upon a time, XML was supposed to be directly on the Web, the files people loaded and manipulated…

The particular XML Web described by Bosak and Bray [leaders of developing XML -ed.] never happened. (It still could, but hasn’t.)

XML has failed to live up to its potential on the web. Sure, it works great behind firewalls and in specific applications, but, remember, XML was supposed to replace HTML. Even XHTML doesn’t precisely work.

XML has come no where near matching HTML in terms of distribution and interoperability. Certainly, there are some incompatibilities between various user agents, but those are being improved as I write (and most of the problems are regarding rendering, not HTML itself).

On the web, HTML still outweights XML, in many ways:

  1. There’s more data in HTML than XML.
  2. There’s more HTML resources than XML resources.
  3. There’s more people who can competently author HTML than XML.

Today, the format of the web, 2.0 or not, is HTML. It may change in the future, but it hasn’t yet.

Anyway, on the the point where I want to disagree with MacManus. He says:

Microformats is the generic name given to any format that builds on XML to provide additional metadata about web objects.

Actually Richard, no.

You must not have been paying attention, because microformats are built on HTML, not XML. Sure, you can use them with with XHTML, but that is by no means a requirement.

Also, ‘microformats’ refers to a specific way of extending the web, via modularization and iteration on top of existing formats with existing schemas (where possible). This is much different that Structured Blogging, which ignores the most common format on the web (HTML) and manages to replicate and hide the interesting data.

The interesting data is in the content. Putting data in arbitrary XML is not useful and lacks the sharing potential of the WWW.