On Microformats

Monday, 14 May 2007

We’ve had some questions about what Microformats mean for Twitter and developers. As one of your friendly neighborhood Twitter engineers, I’d be happy to explain.

Microformats are a way of marking up HTML to give it enhanced meaning with the aim of representing certain types of information. For example, say you want to mark up a bunch of blog entries on a web page so that either a human or a machine can pick those entries out. There’s a Microformats standard called hAtom that does just that, and it’s just one of several standards that we’ve implemented here on Twitter. If you poke around our code you’ll see the aforementioned hAtom on pages that show lists of Twitter updates, hCard for the authors of those updates, XFN for friends of users, and more.

What’s the point? If you as a developer are more comfortable working with HTML than with our API, it’s now easy for you to grab Twitter updates for projects like Greasemonkey scripts, for example. It’s all about making it easier to work with the data that Twitter makes available. With the addition of Microformats, all you need to get mashing up Twitter is our site.

Hopefully that clears things up. Please contribute your questions and experience to the Twitter Development Talk group, and tell us about the cool stuff you build!