A Proposal for a Safari Microformats plugin

21 Jun 2006

In a nutshell, I want to be able to easily take advantage of Microformats. I want to know about and get that information with the same ease as RSS Feeds, and I want it to work on a Mac.

Firefox already has its ‘Tails’ extension, but this currently only displays microformats in the sidebar. There’s the TailsExport extension for exporting the data found, but sadly, this is Windows only.

So what tools do we have on OS X? Tantek has put up some bookmarklets that will do the export for you, but the trick is detection – knowing that there is data present in the first place. So either the site author needs to announce the presence of microformats (in the same way that they would display an icon for RSS feeds), or the browser has to check and inform you. I prefer the latter, but currently, Endo is the only OS X app I know that detects (it looks for the hCalendar format and passes it onto iCal).

What I’m doing here is illustrating a request I sent to Hao Li (Saft), Hetima (SafariStand) and Kasper Nauwelaerts (Safari Tidy), all developers of excellent Safari plugins. I can’t imagine that Apple are intending to integrate Microformats any time soon, so I thought it was worth trying the plugin developers. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Here’s what I’m imagining in Safari (although I would equally welcome this in Camino and Omniweb). Microformats are detected and announced the same as RSS feeds – an icon appears in the location bar to warn you. (Incidentally, in these screenshots, I’m using Safari Standardized Feed Icon from Mac Specialist). I’ve picked on Chris Messina’s Blog here, as it had a post with plenty of hCalendar love:

Mock screenshot showing Microformats notification icon

(Click to see the full image)

Clicking the icon reveals a sheet, with details of all the available data on that site hCards, hCalendars and so on. Each type is represented by an familiar OS X system icon:

Mock screenshot showing sheet with available Microformats

(Click to see the full image)

Data can be added individually, or all in one go. An option to cancel is there too. I’m not sure about the small + button, but you get the idea. I also think the ‘hCard’ bit is too techie – perhaps something like an email address or phone number?

I don’t know how hard this would be to implement, but I certainly needed to illustrate what I was asking for. Cross fingers! Any further suggestions and ideas welcome.

Update: Ben Ward had a similiar idea at the same time, but Ben expands the idea further. I like the concept of a ‘downloads’ style window. Go see.

Another Update: Remy Sharp has implemented this functionality as a bookmarklet !

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