hAtom hits the big time

From the Read/Write Web:

Earlier this year, the Associated Press, together with the Media Standards Trust, introduced hNews, a new microformat for describing news content. HNews allows publishers to easily attach machine-readable news semantics to content on the web. Today, the AP announced the completion of the first draft of hNews. In addition, TownNews, announced that is will support hNews in its BLOX content management system, which is being used by over 1,500 newspapers in the US.

HNews, which is an extension of the hAtom format, only requires content users to specify information about the source organization. In addition, publishers can specify geo-information, a dateline element, license information and information about the code of ethics that governed the behavior of the author of a given site. At its most basic level, hNews, just like other microformats like hCard or hCalendar, allows search engines spiders to identify and read semantic information that would otherwise be buried within a text and would be hard to identify for search engines.

The RRW article then goes on to posit some ideas about this being related to AP’s efforts to track use of their web content across the web. This strikes me as rather farfetched, as stripping out the microformat tags is beyond trivial. What makes this exciting for me is that it makes it more likely that search engines will start recognizing hAtom tags and thus will start properly indexing blogs and other microcontent properly into search engines.

In other exciting hAtom-related news, WordPress 2.7 has the post_class function to allow (new) templates to automatically include the hentry tag on blog posts! Also see the Smashing Magazine article on this.