24 Aug

Adding XFN

I recently readded XFN tags back into my links (read: blogroll), which are another Microformat open standard. As with most microformats it’s very simple, and some blogs will do it for you by default. What it basically means is you add rel=”relationship” to the link of the person to give the link some additional meaning.

For example, if I wanted to link to my friend Lana, I can write:

<a href=”http://lanadenise.wordpress.com” rel=”met friend”>Lana’s blog</a>

This indicates that Lana is a friend who I have met. If you leave out the “met” it can be a friend you haven’t yet met (i.e. online). There’s a handful of predefined relationships that should be used but there’s just enough. You can indicate family members, co-workers and vague connections.

Why would you bother, I hear you ask? Well, it gives some extra meaning to my markup for one. You know how I love semantics. But after badgering my Dad onto WordPress so I’d have a legitimate reason to use a family XFN tag, we discussed some of the awesome things about it (which had also been mentioned on #microformats). For example, my Dad has a website because he’s interested in finding, and being found by, distant relatives. Imagine a few years down the line when everyone has a blog (don’t they already?) and use XFN tags on the links to their other family members with blogs. You could easily pull up a diagram based on these interconnected links and see who is related to who. An instant family tree!

Alternatively, you could look up people who work together, or instantly pull up a group’s social network based on reciprocated links. Also, it means I can tie other websites that I use to this page, providing they all show the rel=”me” which will ultimately end here. (See Identity consolidation with the XFN rel=”me” value.)

So, I added that, and after spotting that I had accidentally misspelt his surname and telling me that I should blog this, Tantek suggested I also hCard the links. Not a bad idea! So now you can grab my friends names, websites and what they mean to me all in one go.

Apart from my inability to spell some names correctly, XFN is a very simple to add but fully loaded tag for links, so I had no issues with implementing them.

I think it’s something that will be relied upon more and more in the future for a range of uses and services, so it’s really worth adding now and getting a grip on. Mixing XFN with VoteLinks (which I have yet to use anywhere) and no-follow seem like an interesting prospect and perhaps could be useful for better determining page ranking or just aiding web searches. I’m no innovator, but I’m sure someone will come up with a good way to utilise these features together.

The question is, what should I format next? hResume?