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Web Directions North discount period ends Friday

Just a quick reminder that the discount period for Web Directions North 2009 ends this Friday, the 17th. Sign up before then for just $895 (including all taxes for)

Web Directions is as always 100% valuable, usable sessions, from world leading experts, things you can put into practice right away. And as always, it will be an intimate event, allowing you plenty of time to meet and interact with your peers and the speakers.

Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks in Denver


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Microformats at 24Ways and Sitepoint

Over at SitePoint, the smart and charming Meitar Moscovitz details a few tools and tricks for beefing up your website with microformats.

Meanwhile, the similarly charming and intelligent Elliot Jay Stocks develops a Christmas themed hCard from scratch. Follow along!

Which brings to mind this 24Ways tutorial I wrote a couple of years back.

More and more I see microformats popping up online – and I’ll try to be a bit more diligent about bringing the news to you in future.

The State of the Web 2008 – a Survey of Web Designers and Developers

At Web Directions and Westciv, we’ve been strongly focussed on the standards based web, and best practices in web design and development for well over ten years. Over that period, we’ve seen the rise of CSS, along with the decline of presentational HTML. We’ve seen knowledge of issues around accessibility grow from next to nothing to being seen as fundamental to best practice. We’ve seen the use of semantics HTML become common place.

But, objective research like Opera Software’s MAMA, our own research into top Australian web sites, and other similar projects indicate we’ve still got a long way to go.

So, we are introducing The State of the Web, a survey of practicing web designers and developers, which aims to capture how people are developing for the web right now. It focusses on several areas including

  • browsers and operating systems developers use and test for
  • Design and development practices and technologies, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript and back end languages

The survey runs until December 20th, and we’ll publish both a detailed summary, as well as the raw data early in 2009. If it turns out to be valuable, we plan on making this an annual survey.

The survey should take only about 20 minutes or so to complete. It’s anonymous, but we do ask you register, both to help us maintain the integrity of the result, and just as importantly, to enable us to give away cool stuff to those who participate, including passes to future Web Directions events of your choice, including Web Directions North in Denver. Of course, we’ll only use any email addresses for the purposes of communicating about the survey, and won’t share them with anyone.

Thanks in advance for taking the survey, and here’s to finding out the State of the Web in 2008.

Microformats and Microsoft

To date, Yahoo! have definitely been the biggest champion of microformats among high profile large web companies. As commented here many times, they implement microformats in many of their properties, and their new SearchMonkey search platform even indexes microformatted content, and makes this index available to search application developers.

We’ve also seen quite some interest from Mozilla, with for a while, the promise of native microformats UI support in Firefox 3 (and a microformats javascript API in that browser).

Now, Microsoft, who’ve been doing some interesting microformats related things with hSlices have released some excellent microformats oriented tools and more.

First up, their new web developer/designer focussed community, Mix Online (which features a microformats 101 style article by me, and a Designing with Microformats article with Tim Aidlin) kicks off with a strong Microformats focus.

But the most exciting news is a new Microformats toolkit from Microsoft. It includes an add in for the IE toolbar, called Oomph, that, similar to Operator, provides access to users to the microformatted content on any web page they visit. Here it is in action on my (sadly out of date) personal site

Oomph Microformats toolkit in action

Even better, they’ve released a JavaScript library at you can add to your own sites to provide the same user experience to users of any contemporary browser.

And the same toolkit provides a set of CSS based designs for hCard and hCalendar content you can add to your own sites, and plugins for creating microformatted content for a raft of blogging and CMS tools, including Blogger and WordPress, in addition to Sharepoint and LiveWriter by Microsoft. Grab the toolkit here.

to me this is the most important and exciting step – increasing signs of Microsoft walking the open, standards and community talk that we’ve been seeing for the last year or two. Well done to them on this.

Just a disclaimer re the article at Mix Online, and my relationship with Microsoft generally. I was not paid for that article, and while Microsoft have been sponsors of various events I run, I’m also on the record with as much criticism as praise for their efforts over the years.

Mountain biking plus microformats

Two of the rather too many things that get me excited in life are microformats and mountain biking. It’s hard to imagine the two coming together anywhere, but indeed, at Mountain Bike calendar they do.

Right now, each individual event is marked up with hCalendar, so you can add it directly to any number of online or desktop calendars using Operator for Firefox.

Next up, I’d like to see hCard for the event organisers, GEO data for where the events are held, and the use of X2V so that folks not in the know can automatically add events to their calendars and address books.

But great stuff – exciting to see mtb + uf at last :-)

MapQuest implements microformats

Denver based web mapping service MapQuest now features hCard, hCalendar and GEO microformats in MapQuest Local. Read the MapQuest developers blog for more details.

vCard – the nitty gritty

If you really want to know the ins and outs of vCard, then Michael Mahemoff has a detailed look at the format at his excellent “Software as she’s developed” blog. vCard is the underlying schema that hCard relies on for its semantic goodness, and while a deep (or even shallow) understanding of the vCard format isn’t required to use hCard, it’s worth a look to get a bit more knowledge about the format. And to geek out a bit. That’s never a bad thing.

NetNewsWire removes microformats support

Sadly, NetNewsWire, the excellent Mac (and now iPhone) RSS feed reader, which implemented microformats support with version 3 last year, has now removed these for the upcoming 3.2. Well see if they return as microformats become increasingly popular (but I wonder how many folks were putting microformats in their RSS and Atom?)

A Discussion on “microformats and dark data”

Ash Searle has a thoughtful, though a little inflammatory, discussion of the issue of embedding data in HTML. Worth a read, though the occasionally overly provocative term is best ignored to get to the substance of the article.

Cool geo microformat maker

Tom Taylor has a very cool little Google Maps based geo microformats maker. Just drag a pin to create the code.