One of the hardest things about Microformats is explaining their benefits to people. You can say “It’s a standardised format of marking-up content, which is both human and machine readable!” until you’re blue in the face, but until you can show people a practical benefit they usually remain unmoved.
Luckily there are a few tools out there which will help you show off the benefits of using Microformats, and involve little work from you.
King amongst tools, of course, is Operator, an add-on for Firefox which finds data in pages and presents you with options to transform them using a series of web-based tools. If the person you’re trying to convince doesn’t use Firefox and/or have Operator installed, however, there are a few good tools available online to show their potential.
hAtom is a microformat used for marking up blog posts or other serialised content. Using the Optimus tool you can turn any page marked up with hAtom into an RSS feed, by adding a link on your page in the following format:
Optimus will return correctly formatted XML for users to subscribe to. It’s also a decent validator for other Microformats (although actually seems to struggle a little with hAtom in that department).
hCard is the standard for marking up contact details, and there is a tool from Brian Suda which will convert them into vCards for you;
Technorati also have a test implementation of this tool available, which I’ll link to as they no doubt have better servers Brian’s work is the foundation for H2VX, which I’ll be using in these examples. To extract vCards from a page which has hCard markup, simply create a link in this format:
You can then either save the generated vCard, or add it directly to your address book.
Also from Brian Suda / Technorati comes the hCalendar tool, which transforms your data into the iCalendar standard. Again, you just link to your marked-up page using a specially formatted URL, although this time you get two choices;
… returns a single .ics file with each of your events to add to a calendar; while:
… produces a webcal feed which is updated regularly, allowing subscription to your events.
Implement these tools on your web pages and you’ll have a suite of neat features you can impress your visitors and peers with. It’s a real advantage of using Microformats.