[Taxacom] Microformats

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Sat Nov 3 09:35:55 CDT 2007

In message <200711031318.lA3DIbN4010534 at burp.tkv.asdf.org>, Markku
Savela <msa at moth.iki.fi> writes

>> Briefly, microformats are a way of using HTML classes, with
>> commonly-agreed class names, to describe existing web content, so that
>> tools such as browser plug-ins can extract that data and re-use it. For
>> example, showing coordinates on a map, adding contact details to address
>> books, and adding events to calendars - or looking up taxonomic names in
>> databases, image repositories, etc.; and adding them to recording
>> software.
>I'm always interested in considering the use of such things, if they
>do not cause the page size to explode, e.g. the formats should be

Agreed; but here's a trade-off between compactness and semantic

> On my site, (http://www.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/), some
>pages are quite large, and even minor increase of markup length can
>have significant impact (for example, the page for Papilio is already
>way too large!)

at 2Mb, you're not wrong!

You could sub-divide, perhaps alphabetically (Papilio A-M, Papilo N-Z,
etc.) or even consider a page for each species, which would make it
convenient for others to link to them. If the URLs of those pages ended:




then they would be suitable for use as "tags" as well:


You could save a little size by changing your path from, e.g.:




Better still, apply those icons using CSS background images, on existing
classes; or mark-up your breadcrumb using borders, like that on:


If you replace SPANs with DIVs then, for example:

        <span class=LR><i>Calaides ornythion</i> ;  </span><br>


        <div class=LR><i>Calaides ornythion</i> ;</div>

removing the need for BR elements and saving more characters (note that
you also have redundant white space, after the semicolon - it all adds

>I'm already "almost using" such markup, but only for formatting
>purposes. You can take a look at the comment on the beginning of the
>style sheel (for microformats, only the SPAN's are relevant):
>  http://www.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/life.css

Microformats are element-agnostic. The content of:

        <span class="biota"></span>

is treated equally as:

        <li class="biota"></li>


        <h2 class="biota"></h2>

or whatever (there are some specific exceptions, such as certain classes
and A or IMG elements).

>However, to get compact, I prefer just to have one format for all
>scientific names (SPAN CLASS=SN), and the content of this span is
> <span class=SN><i>scientific name</i> author ; reference </span>

Your class=SN is the same as class=biota in the current 'species'
microformat draft; but your mark-up lacks the semantics which make the
various components parsable.


The purpose of the ABBR element is to contain a title which expands the

        <abbr title="form">f.</abbr>

You also have some invalid HTML, which is a pity, as the mark-up is
thoughtfully written. I suggest you test it at:


Do drop me a line if the results are not clear to you.

Andy Mabbett

            *  Are you using Microformats, yet: <http://microformats.org/> ?

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