Monday, February 22, 2016

GS1 Web vocabulary: welcoming the first external extension

Since our version 2.0 release, is putting increasing emphasis on extensions created through a broad network of community collaborations. Today we celebrate an important milestone in the development of this extensions framework: GS1 have published an initial release of their Web vocabulary. Aoverview document provides more background, and the schemas itself are published at

GS1's SmartSearch initiative has been working with the community (at W3C and Github), creating a Web-based structured data vocabulary that extends to support richer product data description. Unlike our hosted extensions (e.g., that are reviewed, versioned and published as part of itself, external extensions to such as GS1's are fully independent and have their own workflows, review processes and infrastructure.

In the case of GS1 the extension vocabulary builds upon an extensive set of pre-existing B2B standards. While this means that in some places there is some divergence between the GS1 terminology and's, we share a common approach that builds upon the core vocabulary of and upon underlying foundational standards from W3C such as JSON-LD.

As the work evolves we expect the combination of and GS1's vocabularies to provide for significantly richer online product descriptions for use in Web search, combining the descriptive depth of GS1 terminology with the broad coverage of's. We will continue to collaborate with the GS1 team via the W3C community group to document best practices for combining terms with the new GS1 vocabulary, both in terms of making the most of the technical features of JSON-LD, and through gradual improvements that bring our vocabularies into closer alignment. While there is still much to be explored, this week's milestone is important as it is the first large scale external extension to 

Friday, November 6, 2015 what's new?

[starburst visualization of's hierarchy]
It's time for a round-up of recent developments at

We have just published version 2.2. As usual this combines many small fixes with a mix of new vocabulary, as well as efforts to improve the integration and documentation of our existing vocabulary. And as always you can read the full details in our releases page, which in turn links to our issue tracker for even more details. Here are some highlights:

  • We made a number of improvements relating to the description of services, including the addition of providerMobility to indicate dynamic locations, OfferCatalog for hierarchical collections of offers, as well as introduced the notion of a GeoCircle to make it possible to describe service availability in terms of distance from a point or postcode.
  • A new type: ExhibitionEvent for describing exhibitions (e.g. in museums, galleries), alongside a property workFeatured that indicates a CreativeWork featured in an Event. This is quite a typical change: it generalizes existing vocabulary - workPerformed, workPresented - to cover more scenarios with less terminology. 
  • Added an inverse of the makesOffer property: offeredBy to simplify the description of not-for-profit offers (e.g. library book lending).
  • Improved our support for feed-oriented structured data, by adding DataFeed and DataFeedItem
  • Introduced a new type to represent barcodes.
These are just a small sample of the vocabulary changes introduced in v2.2. This release also includes non-vocabulary improvements, such as a simpler feedback form (available from every page in the 'more...' section), some updates to the FAQ on documentation re-use and https. We are aware that the technical nature of our issue tracking site on Github is not ideal for some people, and hope that the improved feedback form will make it easier for the project to listen to a broader audience.

Finally, the illustration above is included here as a reminder that there is more to collaboration than fixing bugs and adding new vocabulary. The interactive version applies the D3 visualization toolkit to exploring the hierarchy. Thanks to Fabio Valsecchi (who made this starburst demo), Gregg Kellogg and Sandro Hawke for their investigations in this area. We are collecting visualization ideas and links in our issue tracker. Another area we also encourage collaboration is around finding even simpler ways of sharing structured data. In particular we would like to draw attention to the CSV on the Web work at W3C, which offers new ways of mapping between tabular datasets and descriptions. To join our discussions on vocabularies, visualization, syntax issues and more, you can join the community group at W3C.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 2.0

We are pleased to announce the public release of 2.0 which brings several significant changes and additions, not just to the vocabulary, but also to how we grow and manage it, from both technical and governance perspectives.

As adoption has grown, a number groups with more specialized vocabularies have expressed interest in extending with their terms. Examples of this include real estate, product, finance, medical and bibliographic information. Even in something as common as human names, there are groups interested in creating the vocabulary for representing all the intricacies of names. Groups that have a special interest in one of these topics often need a level of specificity in the vocabulary and operational independence. We are introducing a new extension mechanism which we hope will enable these and many other groups to extend

Over the years, has taken steps towards become more open. Today, there is more community participation than ever before. The newly formed W3C Community Group is now the main forum for schema collaboration, and provides the mailing list for discussions. issues are tracked on GitHub. The day to day operations of, including decisions regarding the schema, are handled by a newly formed steering group, which includes representatives of the sponsor companies, the W3C and some individuals who have contributed substantially to Discussions of the steering group are public. is a ‘living’ spec that is constantly evolving. Sometimes this evolution can be an issue, such as when other standards groups want to refer to it. So, from this release on, we will be providing snapshots of the entire vocabulary.

And of course, we cannot have a major release without new vocabulary. In this version, we introduce vocabulary for Autos. This represents considerable work by Martin Hepp, Mirek Sopek, Karol Szczepanski and others in the community. In addition, this version also includes a lot of cleanup. A special thanks to Vicki Holland and Dan Brickley for driving this effort.

Over the last four years has gotten adoption beyond our wildest expectations. We are deeply grateful to the webmaster and developer communities for this. We will continue working hard to earn your trust.


Thursday, February 5, 2015 v1.93: VisualArtwork, Invoices, plus lots of fixes and improvements.

Version v1.93 of has just been released.  As we mentioned in the previous update we are working towards a stable "version 2" release. This isn't yet v2.0, but it serves as a foundation,
fixing a variety of small issues across many schemas and examples. 

This release also introduces new vocabulary for describing visual artworks: a new VisualArtwork type alongside supporting properties - artEdition, artformmaterial and surface. Many thanks to Paul Watson for leading that work. See also Paul's blog posts about the schema, its mapping to the VRA Core 4, and its use with Getty's Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) via Linked Data.

Invoices and bills also now have dedicated vocabulary in, see the new Invoice type for details. This addresses situations when an invoice is received that is not directly attached to an Order, for example utility bills.

As usual then release notes page has full details. In recent weeks we have been taking care to document the status of all open issues and proposals in our issue tracker on the Github site. As always, thanks are due to everyone who contributed to this release and to the ongoing discussions in Github and at W3C. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014 v1.92: Music, Video Games, Sports, Itemlist, breadcrumbs and more!

We are happy to announce version v1.92 of With this update we "soft launch" a substantial collection of improvements that will form the basis for a version 2.0 release in early 2015. There remain a number of site-wide improvements, bugfixes and clarifications that we'd like to make before we feel ready to use the name "v2.0". However the core vocabulary improvements are stable and available for use from today. As usual see the release notes page for details.

Please get in touch via the W3C Web Schemas group or our Github issue tracker if you'd like to share feedback with us and the wider community. We won't go into the details of each update in today's blog post, but there are a lot of additions and fixes, and more coming in 2015. Many thanks to all those who contributed to this release!

Friday, September 12, 2014 v1.91: Offer/price documentation fixes, cleanup and community contributions. has been updated to v1.91.

From the release notes:

  • Updated text of the price property to include practical usage guidance, alongside links to information from GS1 for the gtin-related Offer properties.
  • Updated all our examples to follow that guidance; primarily by using priceCurrency and the content= attribute.
  • Noted our thanks to the OpenDomain project for our domain name.
  • Updated the text of the 'image' property to match its expected types. Thanks, Dan Scott!
  • Changed spelling of 'supercededBy' to the more conventional supersededBy. Thanks, Sachini Aparna Herath!
  • Noted that 'logo' and 'photo' are sub-properties of 'image'. Thanks, Sachini Aparna Herath, again!
  • Fixed two syntax errors in examples (Store opening hours RDFa; Book, PublicationVolume Microdata). Thanks, Gregg Kellogg!
  • Added Tolkien-based examples for exampleOfWork/workExample. Thanks, Dan Scott, again!
  • Fixed a bug with our UTF-8 support. Thanks, Richard Wallis!
See the releases page in our documentation for details of previous updates.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 Support for Bibliographic Relationships and Periodicals

[Guest post by Richard Wallis, OCLC & Dan Scott, Laurentian University]
With the addition of three new types, the latest version of introduces support for describing the relationship between, Articles and the Periodicals in which they were published, along with potentially related PublicationIssues & PublicationVolumes. For example:
  • The article "The semantic web" was published in May 2001, in volume 284, issue 5 of Scientific american on pages 28 through 37.
  • That issue of Scientific American contained 33 other articles listed at
  • The editors for that issue included Mark Alpert, Steve Ashley, and Carol Ezzell.
You can now also describe creative works that span multiple parts using the hasPart and isPartOf properties, and you can express relationships between a conceptual representation of a creative work and physical examples of that work using the exampleOfWork and workExample properties. For example:
  • The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy consisting of three separate books.
  • One edition of the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, was published by HarperCollins in 1974 with ISBN .
  • Another edition of the first book was published by Ballantine Books in 1984 with ISBN 0345296052.
  • The movie J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, directed by Ralph Bakshi and released in 1978, was based on the first book in the trilogy.
  • The movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, directed by Peter Jackson and released in 2001, was also based on the first book in the trilogy.
These extensions were developed by the W3C Schema Bib Extend Community Group, and were designed in the spirit of to provide an easily published and widely consumable vocabulary for creative works. Many other modelling and vocabulary initiatives, such as RDA and BIBFRAME, continue to work towards offering the additional layers of granularity of description desired by many in the bibliographic metadata world, and these extensions hope to complement those efforts. Where possible, we aligned our work with the Bibliographic Ontology, and acknowledge their leadership in tackling many of these issues.

We are pleased with the outcome of working with the broader W3C Web Schemas Task Force community to refine these extensions, which also helped address similar concepts and relationships required by a number of associated domains such as TV, Radio and Music Recording. One outcome of this discussion was the elevation of position to a general superproperty of properties such as issueNumber, volumeNumber, seasonNumber, and episodeNumber. Combined with the recent addition of the Role type, now has the flexible, generic framework to address the specialized needs of other domains such as Comics.

We welcome the acceptance, refinement and introduction of these proposals by, which greatly enhances the capability for describing creative works in general, and bibliographic resources in particular.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Introducing 'Role'

To date, has supported relatively simple relations between entities.  For example, if we wanted to describe Joe Montana as an athlete on the San Francisco 49ers team, we might represent this using the newly proposed "athlete" property of a SportsTeam. 

This is a pretty clear structure, but it doesn't offer anywhere to attach further information about the relationship.  Building on our example, let's say we wanted to also indicate that Joe Montana only played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1992 and that his position was "Quarterback".

To accomplish this, we introduce a new type called Role.  The new Role type serves to elaborate or qualify these more simple relationships. We have been motivated by concrete problems around organizational affiliations such as those occurring in music and sports. In both cases it is important to specify time periods in a sporting or musical career.

To specify the role being played, the Role entity reuses the initial property from, and then extends the semantics of the relationship by way of additional properties like "startDate".

In essence, we are replacing the "athlete" property's original value (a Person node) with an intermediary node (Role). The original node is moved one hop away and becomes the value of the re-used "athlete" property. After considering several designs, we chose this approach as the simplest.

The Role schema allows algorithms to collapse down to the simple graph from a more complicated Role-based description. In the example above, we can assume Joe Montana is a valid value for the "athlete" property on the 49ers SportsTeam. More formally, if some Role R has incoming property P from entity A, and A also has an outgoing occurrence of property P to entity B, we can assume it is reasonable to describe A as having a 'P' property whose value is B.

These details are more important to consumers of than publishers, as they allow for backwards compatibility, while also permitting any property to be used with roles.

The Role type (much like URL) can be used with any types. We will not clutter the site with statements emphasizing this, except in cases (e.g. around sports and music) where the Role mechanism is particularly useful. We have added examples of Role usage in Microdata, RDFa and JSON-LD notation to the site, and look forward to seeing more detailed descriptions using this mechanism.

As we continue to evolve the site we expect to add more properties and sub-types that have been designed to work with the Role type. For now, we introduce two kinds of Role: OrganizationRole and PerformanceRole. In the sporting example shown above, the Role node (the red circle) would be an OrganizationRole and in addition to defining the "startDate" and "endDate" for that role, we might also define indicate Joe Montana was a quarterback by using the "namesPosition" property. Similarly, the PerformanceRole type provides a characterName property that might be used to describe Bill Murray's role in Ghostbusters. The Role pattern works here too. See the site for full RDFa, Microdata and JSON-LD markup, including the Ghostbusters example shown here:

Vicki Tardif Holland (Google)
Jason Johnson (Microsoft)

Friday, May 16, 2014 v1.4 update: examples, examples, examples...

We've just posted an update to the site, focussing on improved examples. Our last update introduced a new property called workPerformed which relates an Event to a CreativeWork performed at the event. Today's improvements add examples of this property to MusicEvent and TheaterEvent.

There are also new JSON-LD examples for MusicEvent, alongside additions showing RDFa, Microdata and JSON-LD examples for various local business-related types including Restaurant, StorePharmacy, Corporation, PostalAddress,  Organization, ContactPoint and OpeningHoursSpecification. This update also includes improvements to the navigation for MedicalEnumeration types, alongside fixes for several other typos and glitches - both of which are thanks to Dan Scott.

Finally, it's worth highlighting the recent addition of substantial vocabulary for describing Reservations, as well as a type for describing an EmailMessage. These complement the Actions design announced last month.