nicolas leroy

hProduct revival

September 19, 2008

After months (should I say years?) of inactivity, there have been several signs of interest for the hProduct microformat proposal in the past 3 months.

Posted by Hayes Davis on the Appozite blog in June’08:

hProduct has the noble goal of describing a product itself outside the context of a classified-style listing of that product for sale (hListing) or a user’s feelings about that product (hReview). The rough draft proposal for hProduct combines the standard attributes you would expect such as name, (text) description, image and uri with a more elaborate product description capability using extensible property-value pairs. Anyone who’s ever worked with Amazon’s extensive product property-value taxonomies will see that this methodology is a fairly resonable approach to describing products. However, it seems that the Microformats community is not very enthusiastic about hProduct and generally suggests people consider hListing instead.

Posted by Jay Myers on his personal blog in August’08:

Lately I have been hot on the Microformat trend, and have an opening to push hProduct into our product listing and product detail pages, which number in the 300,000+ pages. I believe it could serve as a great example of what the format COULD be, given the correct implementation. […] Imagine the kinds of things one could do with an accepted hProduct standard — the partnership between retailers, manufacturers and the end consumer has implications that would heavily impact the e-commerce industry, potentially changing the way consumers find data and shop both online and in the store.

This week, ReadWriteWeb has reviewed Giftag, a new shopping service launched by the US-based retailer Best Buy:

[BestBuy] decided to create Giftag a browser plugin that lets you make online wishlists and share them with your friends. […] Giftag is using an open data format: hProduct. […] Using Giftag is simple, especially if the site you are on already supports hProduct. You just click the button in your Firefox toolbar and, at the bottom of the screen, a tray will appear where all the information about the product (name, description, price, etc.) displays. All you need to do is select which of your lists to put the item on. If the retailer’s site doesn’t support hProduct, you’re still able to add items to the list by drawing a box around the item, but you’ll have to fill in the information about the product yourself.

Giftag Firefox extension

In the press release, Giftag gives more details about its commitment to hProduct:

[Giftag] also supports an emerging specification of the microformat standard called hProduct. […] Adoption of this standard will provide benefits to the retail industry for SEO and for the organic marketing of products through social applications. Giftag takes advantage of this standard by recognizing products formatted using this specification. Giftag then accepts the product attributes supplied by the site (product name, description, price, etc.) and auto-populates those fields for the user.

In the near future, Giftag will contribute and maintain an open source hProduct studio application built using jQuery that will allow developers and retailers to easily experiment with generating and verifying the hProduct. Giftag.com will host a developer section where Giftag APIs will be exposed and the Giftag development team will be available via forums.

It’s pretty exciting seeing some buzz around hProduct. If BestBuy is really serious with Giftag, then it’s in its interest to simplify the product bookmarking process, and therefore help defining the hProduct proposal (still in early draft) and push for adoption by other retailers. It’s also in the interest of any other social shopping / wishlist sites.