Google Maps adds hCard Microformat

Google Maps introduces Microformats.

Google has announced that they have added support for the hCard Microformat to their popular maps application.

Microformats are not at all complicated; essentially the principle is all about making data that obeys a general pattern more accessible to machines and therefore more useful to us. So for example hCard is a format for marking-up an address. An address obeys the general pattern of street, locality, region, postal code, country and so it makes sense to try to standardise the way in which this information is marked up in HTML. So by adding a few class names, we can publish our address as a microformat, it's as easy as that. Take a look at our contact page which includes our address as a hCard.

This seemingly small addition by Google is a major step forward, even though there's no actual visual difference on the page, as it will significantly increase the number of hCards now published online. Plus this adoption by Google will no doubt point the web design industry spotlight on these new open data formats and speed their adoption and use by other companies and individuals. It would be good to see the browser vendors add features for exporting Microformats rather than leave users hunting for extensions and bookmarklets to fill the void.

Once Microformats become more widespread on the internet and the tools to utilise them are integrated into our day-to-day software we're going to wonder how we ever managed without them.

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Michael Walsh by Michael Walsh