The Dalai Lama and Microformats

Screenshot: Friends for a Friend His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits the Hessenpark near Frankfurt on September 22. As our agency is involved in the organization of that event, we sponsored the website Friends for a Friend. We had a few guidelines concerning the color coding, also we were required to reflect the poster design, but otherwise we were free to do as we liked.

When designing a site for a person who is so empathic we deemed it consequential not to exclude any users. After a little debate with our designers we settled on a color scheme that fulfills most requirements for color contrast. Furthermore text is resizable, forms are labeled, the structure is semantic: in the German accessibility test we got 98 out of 100 points.

There are little mashups including Google Maps and a journey planner for public transport. You can get decent print results, a customized error page, the site is language negotiated and thus loads your preferred language version automatically. Loading is extremely fast since we’ve learned our performance lessons, and of course everything is microformatted.

I must admit it’s difficult to microformat “Dalai Lama,” because it is a role, not a name. fn is required, but the text only refers to the title and role “His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.” His monastic name is of course Tenzin Gyatso, his family name is Lhamo, and his given name Thondup, but the text doesn’t mention any of these. I’m afraid microformats do not properly reflect this. How do you markup “the Pope?” ;)

We used WordPress as a simple content management system with a self-written plug-in to clean up the comments template — the default error messages were so unacceptable. Alas we ended up with one installation for each language because the existing internationalization plug-ins were immature. Special credits to Jessica Spengler for the excellent and sensitive text translation!

I don’t think that modern technology and something ancient as Tibetan buddhism really contradict each other. In fact topics like sustainability, responsibility and empathy become more important in our work environment. Whenever the Science meets Dharma project would call for experienced web developers I’m sure we would find many willing to share their knowledge with Tibetan monks and get an insight into their wisdom and philosophy in return.

One Response to ‘The Dalai Lama and Microformats’

  1. Dalai lama e os microformats » Revolução Etc

    […] O que o Dalai Lama tem haver com microformats? Eu já te falo: tudo! O site da visita da santidade o Dalai Lama a Hessenpark, cidade próxima a Frankfurt na Alemanha, chamado de Friends for a friend, é feito em WordPress, tem RSS, usa código semântico, acessibilidade em alguns níveis interessantes, label nos forms e usa microformats! O encontro perfeito entre uma tradição milenar e o que há de mais geek em tecnologia. Não vou me assustar se o telefone dele tocar e ele tirar do bolso um iPhone! […]