Phillip Pearson - Second p0st

tech notes and web hackery from the guy that brought you bzero, python community server, the blogging ecosystem, the new zealand coffee review and the internet topic exchange

2005-12-15

hAtom - standardised class names for blogging

I feel like I've talked about this before, but it sounds like the hAtom microformat is gaining some traction. Basically it defines a set of standard class names to use to indicate certain bits of a post, and also to surround a "feed" of posts.

I'm not really a fan of Atom as a feed format, as I can't see a clear benefit over RSS. However, a standard way to mark up blog posts for machine readers is a good thing. I can see Technorati benefiting hugely if people pick up on this, as it has historically been pretty bad at detecting where posts, titles etc are on pages. A clear indication that a post on the front page belongs to a certain permalink would also let them cut out a lot of the duplication in their results (which I've been noticing quite a bit on the structuredblogging.org search).

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Today's Structured Blogging coverage

There's some good stuff coming out today, and we're starting to work through the issues that people are starting to report (now that the 'public beta' has started). I'm keeping notes on the plugins over on the SB.org wiki.

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Stowe Boyd doesn't think it will work out because people fundamentally don't like structure -- they want flexibility.

My opinion? Some people like structure, and some don't. Every field is optional in every microcontent type you can publish with the Structured Blogging plugins, so if you aren't interested in giving every detail every time, that's fine. We just have to wait and see what people do in real life, and keep tweaking it until it suits what people want to do. We all have the same goal: to get machine-readable data out there in the world...

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WebProNews: During the announcement, Doc Searls commented: "If anyone doubts the grassroots exist, take a look at what's happening here."

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Richard Goodwin reviews Structured Blogging - using the SB WP plugin :-)

I've responded to his bug reports in his comments.

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Pete Cashmore at Mashable* is looking for feedback on stability before installing a plugin, and thinking of adding SB to an app he's developing.

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Arnaud Leene wonders what this means for people not using MT or Wordpress. Bryan Rieger has a good comment about the microcontent description files. Kimbro Staken (who designed the MCD format and built the interpreters for it) responds and mentions Syncato, the blogging tool he wrote, that is all about XML microcontent.

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Here's a good interview (podcast) with Salim Ismail of PubSub from a week ago, where he talks about Structured Blogging, why PubSub kicked it off, the Feedmesh, and gives the usual introduction to prospective search (which is worth listening to if want to know why PubSub is special: see also my brainstorming on how you would design a prospective search engine and my response to the comments on that post).

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Labnotes complains about the data being presented both with microformats and in XML, in the x-subnode area. It's true, the plugin repeats itself, but if you look more carefully at the output you'll notice that there are a bunch of fields for which microformat markup isn't defined, so the structured data is only in the x-subnode area.

The plugins use that XML as their data storage area -- it's how the microcontent description files address the fields that make up a structured blog post -- so the XML ain't going away, however we're thinking of making it less conspicuous. PubSub wants to aggregate the full structured content, so the XML has got to make it out into the feeds, but it could possibly be moved out of the HTML and into separate files/pages.

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