I remember spending almost an entire evening speaking with Marc Canter and a few of his microformat evangelists at the Syndicate Conference last December about “structured blogging” and “microformats” and not once did anyone ever correct my misunderstanding about it all. I had managed to miss one very key detail which caused me to virtually write-off microformats all together.

Perhaps my misunderstanding derived from the name “Micro-Format.” You see, with my Web Services and Atom background the term “format” means for me something fixed and rigid. You say “format” within the context of blogging and I think “XML schema.”

And there in lies the crux of my microformat pessimism. A microformat does not require your HTML to adhere to a fixed structure or schema. Microformats are probably more aptly called “micro-labels” because all they require is that within a very simple class heirarchy, HTML elements are assigned simple classnames.

Why is this important? Because before I understood what microformats required, I felt that I would be constrained by the HTML I was “forced” to use, and thus, my designs would be constrained as well.

This is not the case at all - microformats hardly constrain me at all. Microformats work with virtually all of my existing HTML structures, which means I, and anyone else for that matter, could slipstream in support for microformats to our blogs and applications without disrupting or comprimising our design or content.

I just can’t believe I missed that.

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