hCard and hCal

After the we05 conference I was pretty interested in the hCard and hCal microformats.

So far I’ve incorporated both formats into various sections of the WWF-Australia website – some specific examples being our contacts and events pages (although there are others scattered throughout the site).

In theory I love the idea of microformats – the ability to provide semantic value to HTML elements in this way is very appealing at a conceptual level, but I’m starting to question the practicality of this approach.

One of the things I need to be able to provide to the staff here is some form of WYSIWYG editor for maintaining the content of the site. There are very few people in the organisation that are fluent in HTML, so this kind of editor is pretty important. It strikes me that using a WYSIWYG editor pretty much rules out the possibility of incorporating microformats in our editable content.

One alternative is to only use these microformats for structured data, where the templating system of our CMS outputs structured data using microformats to provide the semantic value. While this is easily doable (as demonstrated in the examples above), if you are relying on a templating system to output the microformat content, why not just create an alternate template for iCal or vCard and output the format directly?

The only other thing I’m thinking of is RSS feeds, and being able to embed microformat content into the entry content. This has potential benefits in that subscribing services can parse out that information from the entry payload, but again, given the points above how much value is actually provided? Why not just provide iCal or vCard content directly?

Another aside: if I’m wanting to embed an event in an RSS feed, do I need to re-add the title to the description of the feed? Or is the title assumed to be the title of the event?

If anyone a) can grok what I’m on about above and b) has any thoughts, please drop me a line. I’m going to have to make a few decisions regarding the CMS administration tools in the next few weeks and this may have an impact on some of those decisions. Thanks 🙂

Timely: Marc Canter is talking about the concept at syndicate [via Doc Searls]