Tuesday, August 9, 2016

schema.org update: hotels, datasets, "health-lifesci" and "pending" extensions...

Schema.org 3.1 has been released! Many thanks to everyone in the community who has contributed to this update, which includes substantial new vocabulary for describing hotels and accommodation, some improvements around dataset description, as well as the usual collection of new examples, bugfixes, usability, infrastructural, standards compatibility and conceptual consistency improvements.

This release builds upon the recent 3.0 release. In version 3.0 we created a health-lifesci extension as a new home for the extensive collection of medical/health terms that were introduced back in 2012. Publishers and webmasters do not need to update their markup for this change, it is best considered an improvement to the structure of our documentation. Our extension system allows us to provide deeper coverage of specialist topics without cluttering the core project pages. Version 3.0 also included some improvements from the FIBO project, improving our representation of various financial products.

We have also introduced a special extension called "pending", which provides a place for newly proposed schema.org terms to be documented, tested and revised. We hope that this will help schema proposals get wider visibility and review, supporting greater participation from non-developer collaborators. You should not need to be a computer programmer to be part of our project, and "pending" is one step towards making work-in-progress schema proposals more visible without requiring knowledge of highly technical systems like GitHub. We have linked each term in pending.schema.org to the technical discussions at Github, but also to a simple feedback form. We anticipate updating the "pending" area relatively frequently, in between formal releases.

The site also features a new "how we work" document, oriented towards the Web standards community and toolmakers, explaining the evolving process we have adopted towards creating new and improved schemas. See also commentary on this in the UK government technology blog post about making job adverts more open with schema.org.

Many people were involved in these updates, but particular thanks are due to Martin Hepp for leading the hotels/accommodation design, and to Marc Twagirumukiza for chairing the "schemed" W3C community group that led the creation of our new health-lifesci extension.

Finally, we would like to dedicate this release to Peter Mika, who has served on our steering group since the early days. Peter has stepped down as Yahoo's representative, passing his duties to Nicolas Torzec. Thanks, Peter! Welcome, Nicolas...

For more details on version 3.1 of schema.org, check out the release notes

Monday, February 22, 2016

GS1 Web vocabulary: welcoming the first schema.org external extension

Since our version 2.0 release, schema.org 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.org/voc/

GS1's SmartSearch initiative has been working with the schema.org community (at W3C and Github), creating a Web-based structured data vocabulary that extends schema.org to support richer product data description. Unlike our hosted extensions (e.g. bib.schema.org, auto.schema.org) that are reviewed, versioned and published as part of schema.org itself, external extensions to schema.org 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 schema.org's, we share a common approach that builds upon the core vocabulary of schema.org and upon underlying foundational standards from W3C such as JSON-LD.

As the work evolves we expect the combination of schema.org 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 schema.org's. We will continue to collaborate with the GS1 team via the schema.org W3C community group to document best practices for combining schema.org 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 schema.org. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Schema.org: what's new?

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

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 schema.org 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 schema.org collaboration than fixing bugs and adding new vocabulary. The interactive version applies the D3 visualization toolkit to exploring the schema.org 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 schema.org 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 schema.org-style descriptions. To join our discussions on vocabularies, visualization, syntax issues and more, you can join the schema.org community group at W3C.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Schema.org 2.0

We are pleased to announce the public release of Schema.org 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 schema.org adoption has grown, a number groups with more specialized vocabularies have expressed interest in extending schema.org 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 schema.org.

Over the years, Schema.org has taken steps towards become more open. Today, there is more community participation than ever before. The newly formed W3C Schema.org Community Group is now the main forum for schema collaboration, and provides the public-schemaorg@w3.org mailing list for discussions. Schema.org issues are tracked on GitHub. The day to day operations of Schema.org, 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 Schema.org. Discussions of the steering group are public.

Schema.org 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 automotive-ontology.org 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 Schema.org 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

Schema.org v1.93: VisualArtwork, Invoices, plus lots of fixes and improvements.

Version v1.93 of schema.org 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 schema.org, 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 schema.org 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

Schema.org v1.92: Music, Video Games, Sports, Itemlist, breadcrumbs and more!

We are happy to announce version v1.92 of schema.org. With this update we "soft launch" a substantial collection of improvements that will form the basis for a schema.org 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 schema.org 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

Schema.org v1.91: Offer/price documentation fixes, cleanup and community contributions.

Schema.org 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

Schema.org 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 schema.org 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 http://www.nature.com/scientificamerican/journal/v284/n5/index.html.
  • 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 schema.org 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 schema.org 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, schema.org 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 schema.org, which greatly enhances the capability for describing creative works in general, and bibliographic resources in particular.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Introducing 'Role'

To date, schema.org 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 schema.org than publishers, as they allow for backwards compatibility, while also permitting any schema.org property to be used with roles.

The Role type (much like URL) can be used with any schema.org 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 schema.org 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 schema.org site for full RDFa, Microdata and JSON-LD markup, including the Ghostbusters example shown here:

Vicki Tardif Holland (Google)
Jason Johnson (Microsoft)