Microformats (Book review)

Ever since first hearing about microformats a couple of years ago, I've tried to find opportunities to use them in my projects. To be honest, I found it a little difficult to see the benefit of using microformats.

After seeing Tantek Çelik talk about microformats at @media 2006 in London, I kind of started seeing the point. But I still struggled, though I have started using microformats, both here and for client work. Maybe it's just me, but I find the microformats syntax incredibly complex, confusing, and hard to understand. And that is a little odd since it's supposed to be simple and easy to use.

Because of my failure to fully wrap my head around microformats I decided to buy Microformats – Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0 by John Allsopp. I figured that the whole thing would be better explained in the book than on the website. And it is.

I'm not going to say that reading this book will open your eyes or make you understand every aspect of microformats. It didn't work that way for me (though it might for you). But it will give you a better understanding of microformats. I'll try to find time to read the book again to see if that makes things stick better.

I guess it all depends on how your brain is wired. I simply can't get to grips with microformats, the same way I just cannot understand jQuery syntax. But this book is not to blame for that.

No, this book is very well-written and easy to read, so that is not the problem. It consists of five parts:

  1. Introducing microformats
  2. Using microformats
  3. Case studies
  4. Developing microformats
  5. Appendixes

It is pretty obvious what "Introducing microformats" is about, so I'm not going to spend any time on that. The second part, "Using microformats", though, is where the real meat of this book is. It is split into eight chapters. The first chapter explains structural and semantic HTML, how it is limited, and how using microformats helps.

The other seven chapters each explain a specific type of microformat:

  • Link-based microformats
  • Relationship microformats
  • Location microformats
  • Contact information microformats
  • Event microformats
  • Review and resume microformats
  • Syndication microformats

Everything is accompanied by code examples, and John even shows how you can use CSS to style the markup used for each type of microformat.

The Case studies and Developing microformats parts of the book didn't really catch my eye, but the Appendixes contain references and design patterns that are great to have.

It is a little unfortunate that the accessibility problem with the abbr-design-pattern that is discussed in hAccessibility isn't mentioned in the book along with the workarounds that are suggested. One very simple explanation is that the book had already been printed when the problem was brought up.

All in all, this is a good book if you're struggling with microformats, and a good reference if you already understand them. I think I will be able to use microformats better after reading the book, but like I said, my brain does not seem to be fully compatible.

Microformats
Author: John Allsopp
ISBN-10: 1590598148
ISBN-13: 978-1590598146

Posted on August 13, 2007 in Reviews, (X)HTML