In other microformat news, over the weekend I made a draft version of a "Microformats Zen Garden." The idea, introduced on the microformats-discuss email list, is an obvious knockoff of the CSS Zen Garden, only the (X)HTML is full of microformatted information, and JavaScript is added to the mix. I spent a few hours working on this, and when I was done, I realized the concept was not just an application, but almost a platform - a small hint at the mythical web-as-operating-system. Microformats act as the documents, CSS handles the visual style, and JavaScript acts as the applications. The only important thing missing is the ability to save edited documents, but Mark Pilgrim is already working on using Atom for that. I'll be very interested to see how this all materializes.


I recently worked on a website for the Iowa Military Veterans Band for my day job. It's a static site, which is not my primary interest. Making static websites is more interesting to me than most other tasks, but I'd much rather be working on something dynamic and functional. So I made the site functional in ways no one will ever use.

If you take any page with contact or calendar information from the IMVB site and feed it into X2V, you'll get the relevant information as vCard or iCal, which you can then import into most address book and calendar applications. Which admittedly seems pretty useless at first given the unlikelihood that anyone would want to import such information into a desktop application.

I did this mostly to test out the usefulness of microformats. I had been reading about microformats for a few weeks, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try it out. I probably spent about 20 minutes extra time adding and testing the microformats, which is relatively little given the enormous time savings for the first person who wants to import all ninety-some IMVB members into her address book.

And this is only what can be done with microformats today. I imagine a future in which X2V is unnecessary because microformat readers are built into browsers. Where Safari and Firefox today recognize syndication feeds and allow users to import that information into a suitable application with a single click, future browsers could do the same with various microformats.

Unfortunately, this future will likely be slow coming, as microformats suffer from the same chicken-egg problem that made syndication adoption so slow: nobody wants a reader application with no content, and nobody cares to produce content with no readers. But because microformats are starting mostly with existing formats like vCard and iCal (and soon Atom), perhaps the future won't be so slow to arrive. In any case, I've done my part to spread microformats and create a more semantic web, and I see no reason not to continue doing so in the future.