Contact details in one click

At some stage everyone has laboriously copied and pasted contact details from a website into their address book. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just click a graphic and see the details turn up in your address book?

This tutorial will show how to create a button that will import contact details into an address book. All you need is some knowledge of XHTML and a graphics editor. But before the explanation you want to see it working don't you?

Add me to your address book

How is it done? Meet Microformats

Unless you have been hiding for the last year you will probably have heard of Microformats. The idea is that Microformats add an additional level of meaning to your XHTML using what's already available. So if you know XHTML and CSS the good news is that Microformats will be easy.

Take this example of contact details on a web page:

George Ornbo

Shape Shed

email: george@shapeshed.com

address: 22 Centre Square, 17 Hardwicks Way, London SW18 4AG, UK

tel: +44 (0)2081419116

Microformats sprinkle in some class names to give further semantic meaning to the code. They also allow other programs to access the information contained within the class names. There is even a handy hcard generator to do the work for you. Otherwise you can review the hcard specification. You can attach the class name to any element so you are free to use the full power of XHTML to display it. So now my contact details look like this:

George Ornbo
Shape Shed
22 Centre Square, 17 Hardwicks Way
London SW18 4AG UK
+44(0)208 1419116

Have a look at the example page. You can place this XHTML in the same page or a page anywhere on the web - it doesn't matter.

Creating the vcard

Now I've got my contact details in semantic code I can do things with it. Like send it to a page that will generate a vCard. This is what we use with the image link. Brian Suda has a big Microformat brain and has written code to transfer an hCard on any page into a vCard. Amazing. So to generate a vCard from my XTHML page I just send the details to the script with the link: http://suda.co.uk/projects/X2V/get-vcard.php?uri=http://www.shapeshed.com/examples/hcard/. The user doesn't care of course and they get my contact details in just one click.

Add me to your address book

Amazed? This is just the beginning

Using Microformats in your code is a great way to give people access to your data without building a full scale API. I believe we are just seeing the beginning of some amazing uses of Microformats that will allow relative novices to publish, manipulate and work with data published with just the power of HTML. Who needs a database?

Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.