Microformats in Firefox 3

Alex Faaborg, a User Experience Designer at Mozilla, recently blogged about microformats and their impact on Firefox 3. His thoughts were picked up by Read/WriteWeb and Ajaxian, yielding a good deal of attention.

After giving an excellent overview of what microformats are, he writes:

Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online.

This is going to change the way we interact with data on the Web…

I’m a big supporter of microformats, which I use extensively on this website. Microformats provide a standardized way of marking up common data elements, such as contact information or weblog entries. That information is typically hidden, and only encountered by the computer. However, if these plans take hold, that information will be exposed to people in useful ways. For example, if you were browsing my contact information, you could automatically copy those details into your address book with a single click.

This shift transforms web browsers into “information brokers,” further solidifying their position at the center of personal computing. It’s interesting to note that this integration will work with both web applications and desktop applications. Firefox 2 started down this path with its feed subscription mechanism, and with Firefox 3 the capabilities will increase. Whereas once the operating system itself was solely responsible for launching applications, the web browser is taking over that role.

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