Perhaps I don’t get microformats. I keep hearing people wanting to invent their own format for things for which we already have half a dozen known standards. When pressed, the justification is either that it is too complicated, or that they want to “decouple” from whatever-it-is that the existing formats are “supposed” to be for.
Sometimes this is fair comment, but often it seems to me to entirely miss the point. When a standard format is self-contained (that is, it doesn’t rely on being embedded in a whole mess of infrastructure in order to be meaningful) there’s no reason to associate it with its normal environment. Because it is self-contained you can just pick it up and use it elsewhere. There are many formats like this, at all levels of the stack; examples are OpenPGP, iCal, vCard, practically all XML, and, if you get right down to it, most of TCP/IP (witness amusing standards like IP over carrier pigeon – no, really, RFC 1149 – and its even been implemented).
How about complicated? Well, I contend that any widely used standard format has libraries that can parse it, and if it doesn’t, then software engineers need to put their software architect heads on occasionally, dammit.
So, neither of these arguments are standing up, as far as I can see. Which leads me to wonder: what are microformats all about? Why do people want to decouple? Are they just lazy? Or do they hate the communities that make the standards so much they want nothing to do with them? Or are they merely misguided?
Or have I totally missed the point, and microformats are actually only used where there’s no existing self-contained standard?
Answers on a postcard, please!