The subtle power of microformats

Drew McLellan describes a great example of microformats in action:

This is a superb example of the utility of hAtom. Last.fm doesn’t have a dedicated feed for their shoutboxes, but because they’re nicely marked up with hAtom, it can be converted to Atom on the fly. Awesome.

In other words:

  1. Last.fm outputs their content in what is little more than semantic HTML. They’d have to do this any way, but they took a little extra time to make sure that the HTML conformed to the hAtom draft specification.
  2. Last.fm’s users use an existing service provided by Mr. McLellan that parses Last.fm’s html and outputs it in a format that other services and tools can easily read. Now these users can display that information on their Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, and others, or just subscribe in a feed reader.

So by carefully marking up their content, Last.fm was able to provide a new feature to their members without having to devote additional programming time to roll out any new functionality on their end. Behold the subtle power of microformats!

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