I started to take a deeper look at microformats in the last days and it leaves me a little bit on my appetite. I implemented the hCard microformat on my main page, I pinged Pingorati, and I took a look at my face in Technocrati Kitchen’s Microformat Search Engine. The operation was easy to do, take me a couple of minutes and I was already indexed in their system.
Then I started to dig the available microformat: this one is cool, this other one too, etc.
I took a deeper look at the hReview microformat: cool a way to review anything: movies, books, persons, etc.
Where are URIs?
I can describe my personal home page using an hCard and someone can review my profile using a hReview. Wow, it’s cool!
But wait a minute, how can I make the link between my hCard and the hReview? Is there a way to describe a resource (in this case the resource is myself) with a URI (in this case the URI that “point” to “myself” is http://fgiasson.com)?
I performed a search on the microformat Wiki with the term “URI”: 0 results.
I wonder: is it possible to assign a URI to a microformat? It seems that it is not possible.
I don’t understand, it is so important in my point of view. I want to be able to say: that information (hCard) is relation to that resource (myself, my profile). I want to say:
- This hCard belongs to that URI: http://fgiasson.com
- I want that Bob (who wrote a hReview about me) could be able to say: that hReview belongs to that URI: http://fgiasson.com
That way, the “Technorati Microformat Search Engine” could merge the information from my hCard and the review Bob wrote about me with the hReview. That way someone that search for “Frederick Giasson” in the search engine would come up not just with my hCard but also with the reviews people would have wrote about me.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it is possible to assign a URI to an hCard for the moment. So, what could we do?
UNAPI microformat seems to help revolve a part of the problem
Then I started to dig the Web trying to figure out if it was possible. Then I found the UNAPI microformat. From their website, UNAPI is:
unAPI is a tiny HTTP API any web application may use to co-publish discretely identified objects in both HTML pages and disparate bare object formats. It consists of three parts: an identifier microformat, an HTML autodiscovery link, and three HTTP interface functions, two of which have a standardized response format.
I wasn’t satisfied by this approach.
From microformat to RDF using GRDDL
I’ll not explain all the procedure here, but I would strongly suggest you to read the clear explanation on Danny’s blog:
Forget microformat and adopt Embedded RDF
This is the first “solution” I had in mind when I started to think about that “problem”: why people are using microformat instead of Embedded RDF?
I have to confess: it is sure that it is a little bit more “complex” to implement, but with good tools it would not.
However, in my humble opinion, the eRDF solution is much more powerful.
What is Embedded RDF (eRDF)? Embeded RDF is a way to embed RDF triples into a XHTML file. But “all HTML Embeddable RDF is valid RDF, not all RDF is Embeddable RDF”.
So, if it is possible to embed RDF document into XHTML documents, it tells me that I can use any existing and widespread ontologies such as DC, FOAF, GEO, SIOC, etc. to describe any content available of my XHTML files, exactly as I can do with microformats but with the power of RDF.
Swoogle, the semantic web search engine, is able to parse eRDF content from web pages (in fact, it already index 350 000 eRDF documents). So why the Microformat search engine developed by Technorati would not do the same?
Personally I prefer that method to microformat because it lets me defining my content in a much more powerful way. However it is true: it’s not as simple as microformat to implement.
Tools for eRDF
Some tools exists to handle eRDF:
- There is a eRDF extractor that use XSLT to do the job
- There is a PHP RDF system that parse eRDF content
- There is a search engine that index eRDF content