I’m now the official owner of microformats support in Firefox 3. Here is the preliminary design document.
At this point, we’ll primarily be focusing on making microformats available to extension developers, with very little UI. The primary motivator behind this is that I don’t think anyone has come up with a good user interface for microformats. I want to take some time to bring up some different UI paradigms and have some general discussion on these ideas just to see what people think. We’re actually trying to have a UI discussion on the labs forums, but we’re not getting much input so I thought I would try here.
So far there have been multiple extensions with multiple ways to interact with microformats:
- Operator (toolbar, status bar button, toolbar button, right click on microformats)
- WebCards (in page “cards” – notifcation ribbon on the bottom of the screen, right click on microformats)
- Tails Export (sidebar)
- Tails (icon on the status bar – window presenting content of the microformats)
Some of the other ideas that have been floated have been using the Firefox notification bar to inform about microformats, in page highlighting of microformats, notifications on the URL bar similar to RSS feeds and changing the mouse pointer. You can see some of these ideas at Alex Faaborg’s blog.
The primary concern we have in creating a microformats UI is that it’s not necessarily something that is going to be accessed a lot (like a back button for instance, or bookmarks), so how much screen real estate should it take?
With Operator, my original plan was to allow for many different UI paradigms, and I’m continuing that in the next release by allowing individual buttons for specific microformats (a Contacts toolbar button for instance). So now I’m putting the question to you:
What UI paradigm for microformats do you prefer? Is there a paradigm you wish was in Operator (like a sidebar for instance)? What do you think microformats should look like in Firefox 3?
Feel free to come up with any wild idea you want.
In my next post, I’ll be talking about what we should do for developers.