The discussion turned into a plea (from me) to start thinking about using microformats instead of coming up with new XML languages for APIs. There are already competing formats that replicate, in entirely new markup, structures available in HTML. Why not just use XHTML?\
For example, instead of the various formats returned by the different search engines (and I’ve used several by now), why not return this (inside an XHTML document)?
<code> <ol start="1"> <li><a href="http://url">Document Title</a> <p class="description">Description goes here</p> <blockquote>Snippet goes here</blockquote> </li> </ol> </code>
I think there’s a lot of room for discussion here, and I don’t think that we can reasonably replace all XML-based APIs with microformatted XHTML, but it’s a discussion worth having.
How do you do it? If you wanted to get my buddy gallery, you’d grab:
If you wanted to get it with all its scripts and CSS, you’d grab:
Now, this opens up all kinds of possibilities for new modules that I can’t wait to start playing with. I hope you’ll beat me to it…\
update: There are a couple “quirks” with it at the moment. When you use aspage, the module’s onload isn’t being called, and there’s a lonely little double-quote in the body element. Not sure what’s up, but we’ll get it fixed. Getting just the module’s markup works fine (which is really the important bit, right?).
I think Friday’s will be easier. I get to talk about CSS, on stage with two people I know fairly well, and I have my full time. If you’re at the conference, Friday’s Style and Layout panel should be a lot of fun. I get to talk about the guidelines we set up for CSS in modules and themes in AIM Pages, and how that process has worked out for us so far.
- Writing CSS for Syndicated Content
- A Microformat Proposal for Interoperable Widgets\
Neither is 100% done (that’s what the plane ride is for, right?), although the “proof” widget for the cross-platform widgets is done (and it looks good because Cindy designed it). It’ll be up on the Greenhouse soon, hopefully.\
I already know of some of my Dublin pals who are going, and I think the entire W3C is going. Are you going? Know of any fun stuff to do while in Edinburgh?
This project has been more fun than anything else I’ve done in my \~11 years at AOL. It was full of huge technical challenges, was a great place for us to try out new things, and the team was probably the best I’ve ever worked with. From product management to QA to Operations and the rest of the developers, everyone pitched in, went the extra mile, pushed themselves to find the best (or at least the one that worked) solution, and kept a good sense of humor about it all.\
I started on this thing as a “consultant” and wasn’t supposed to write any code. I ended up:
- joining the team responsible for it
- writing a site’s worth of documentation
- creating a microformat
- coming up with a set of rules for writing CSS to accomodate modules, themes and user styles
- writing almost a dozen modules (only some of which are actually live)
- helping with dozens more, writing a bunch of themes, and making sure that over 60 themes were ready for launch.
- worked on convincing developers, management and design that web standards are the way to go
- and discovered several one-line crashers for Internet Explorer (and one or two ways to make Firefox REALLY unhappy as well).\
It’s not done, not by a long shot. There are still dozens of bugs and hundreds of features still to come. But, it’s a start. It’s all kinds of fun, not just for end users, but for developers too. One of my “secret” goals at the beginning of this project was to make module development easy enough that even “normals” could do it. And just this morning, sitting around a big conference table, there were three product managers talking about their modules. And my other secret goals? Here they are:
- Get more people to learn the “right” way to write CSS.
- Help microformats go mainstream.
- Show the outside world that AOL can do innovative stuff, and that we support Open Source (we’re using the hell out of Dojo).
- Show the outside world, and the internal development community, that using web standards don’t limit you. They help you. Creating modules for our product is so much easier than creating them for live.com, dashboard or Google Homepage. Why? Because microformats are “just” HTML.\
There you go. Go play. And while you’re at it, check out my profile.\
Oh, and for all you Digg folks, I Am Alpha is not AIM Pages.
As of sometime last week, the front page has three separate hAtom feeds and each entry has an hCard on it. I’ve been trying to find time to redo my resume (no, I’m not looking, this is just an excuse to use hResume), but haven’t had time (working nights and weekends will do that to you, along with the fact that I really need a haircut).\
I didn’t have time to remove the classes I had on there before and change the CSS, so the source looks a little cluttered, and nothing’s been done to the archives. I just didn’t have time (running theme, I know).\
If you see anything wrong, please let me know so I can fix it.