XFN 10th Anniversary

on (ttk.me b/4T_1) using BBEdit

Ten years ago to the day, on 2003-12-15, Eric Meyer, Matthew Mullenweg and I launched XFN 1.0:

I'm frankly quite pleased that all three of us have managed to keep those post permalinks working for 10 years, and in Matt's case, across a domain redirect as well (in stark contrast to all the sharecropped silo deaths since).

Since then, numerous implementations and sites deployed XFN, many of which survive to this day (both aforelinked URLs are wiki pages, and thus could likely use some updates!).

Thanks to deployment and use in WordPress, despite the decline of blogrolls, XFN remains the most used distributed (cross-site) social network "format" (as much as a handful of rel values can be called a format).

With successes we've also seen rises and falls, such as the amazing Google Social Graph API which indexed and allowed you to quickly query XFN links across the web, which Google subsequently shut down.

A couple of lessons I think we've learned since:

  1. Simply using rel="contact" (introduced in v1.1) turned out to be easier and used far more than all of the other granular person-to-person relationship values.
  2. The most useful XFN building block has turned out to be rel="me" (also introduced in v1.1), first for RelMeAuth, and now for the growing IndieAuth delegated single-sign-on protocol.

Iterations and additions to XFN have been slow but steadily developed on the XFN brainstorming page on the microformats wiki. Most recently the work on fans and followers has been stable now for a couple of years, and thus being used experimentally (as XFN 1.0 started itself), awaiting more experience and implementation adoption.

With the work in the IndieWebCamp community advancing steadily to include the notion of having an "Indie Reader" built into your own personal site, I expect we'll be seeing more publishing and use of follower/following in the coming year.

These days a lot of the latest cutting edge work in designing, developing and publishing independent web sites that work directly peer-to-peer is happening in the IndieWebCamp community, so if you have some experience with XFN you'd like to share, or use-cases for how you want to use XFN on your own site, I recommend you join the #IndieWebCamp IRC channel on Freenode.

Consider also stopping by the upcoming Homebrew Website Club meeting(s) this Wednesday at 18:30, simultaneously in San Francisco, and Portland.

Either way, I'm still a bit amazed pieces of a simple proposal on an independent website 10 years ago are still in active use today. I look forward to hearing others' stories and experiences with XFN and how we might improve it in the next 10 years.