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Schema.org Actions - an update and call for review

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@google.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2013 22:14:58 +0200
Message-ID: <CAK-qy=7GrsLPcT5yyqsSOd9q9-xt926aHrVNHr1-=P39vC-cbQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: W3C Web Schemas Task Force <public-vocabs@w3.org>
Hi all. Last month we circulated a version of Schema.org Actions for
review; the latest in a series of drafts exploring improvements to our
treatment of actions and activities (URLs below). This is an update on
that work, and a call for feedback and discussion as we move towards
finalising a basic Actions type and initial set of specific Action
subtypes. The schema.org team (this is a collaboration between teams
from Microsoft, Yandex, Yahoo and Google) feels it is close to a final
design for describing "past-tense" actions, and encourages detailed
review of this base Actions schema prior to publication on schema.org.

The latest version (and also the most recent, June 2013 draft) does
not include action handler mechanisms or a full treatment of
future/potential actions. Instead, we have focussed on solidifying a
basic Action type plus a hierarchy of specific Action subtypes,
alongside a few associated properties. This is intended as a
foundation for the broader framework (future/potential actions,
handlers etc.) presented in earlier drafts. Today's version differs
from the June draft primarily in polish and detail rather than in
broad direction.

There is a test build of the schema.org site available for review:

* The basic Action type is at http://sdo-actions.appspot.com/Action

* The overall Action hierarchy can be browsed via

* An alternate HTML view is available at

* Source files in RDFa/RDFS (ActionBase.html, ActionTypes.html) are in
W3C's WebSchemas mercurial repo,

The core idea is that an Action type defines a handful of re-usable
properties that apply to actions, but that we can clarify and extend
these for specific action types. This allows us to use more
domain-specific language with detailed action types. At a schema level
we can often view these subtype-specific properties as specializations
or sub-properties of the more general Action properties. This approach
balances a desire for human-friendly descriptive language with the
goal of generic and extensible processing of action/activity data.
Future improvements to the schema.org site should make these
sub-property relationships more accessible to both humans and
machines; for now they are indicated via textual descriptions.

The general 'Action' properties are: agent, instrument, location,
object, participant, result, startTime, endTime. For example, a
specific Action subtype such as
http://sdo-actions.appspot.com/FollowAction might introduce a property
such as http://sdo-actions.appspot.com/followee that we can declare to
be a sub-property of the more general
http://sdo-actions.appspot.com/object. So in this case, we can define
'followee' ("A sub property of object. The person or organization
being followed.") in terms of 'object', i.e. "The object upon the
action is carried out, whose state is kept intact or changed. Also
known as the semantic roles patient, affected or undergoer (which
change their state) or theme (which doesn't). e.g. John read *a

Schema.org Actions have been designed to integrate fully with the
broader schema.org approach, i.e. it is syntax-agnostic (RDFa,
Microdata, JSON-LD etc.), and draws upon schema.org's existing
vocabulary (large collection of nouns and their properties) and
machinery (type and property hierarchies). The intent is to launch
with a useful package of types that draw upon community experience
(including activity streams) and industry trends. The use of hierarchy
to organize these types aims at providing attachment points that allow
both vocabulary-reuse and independent extensions. Discussion of the
detail and structure of these types is particularly welcome; ideally
via public-vocabs@w3.org, or the W3C WebSchemas Wiki. I can relay
non-public comments to the schema.org team if anyone prefers to do so.
Sam Goto (goto@google.com), one of the co-authors of this work, has
also volunteered to do this next week as I'll be taking some vacation
time; please copy us both to be sure.

The schema.org team is keen to move forward with this work, and to
adopt a basic Action type hierarchy that can be subsequently extended
for future/possible actions, handlers etc. We will take a look next
Thursday on discussions so far, and decide whether we have rough
consensus that this work is ready. As you know we can always tweak,
improve and edit published schemas, but any comments on these
near-final efforts would be much appreciated prior to their inclusion
in schema.org.

Having said all this, we still have a few final additions and modest
tweaks to make over the coming week to integrate some more action use
cases (e.g. see http://help.yandex.com/webmaster/?id=1127989), but
nothing that should alter substantively what you see. We'll keep you
posted as that evolves, and we expect this thing to continue evolving
incrementally after that. If you read this far, thanks for your
patience and any thoughts you can share on this work.


Dan (for the schema.org team)

See http://www.w3.org/wiki/WebSchemas/ActivityActions for earlier drafts:
* [April2012] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-vocabs/2012Apr/0030.html
* [Nov2012] http://www.w3.org/wiki/images/7/79/Schema.orgActionsMinimaldraft.pdf
* [May2013] http://www.w3.org/wiki/images/3/38/ActionsinSchema.org2013-05-11.pdf
* [June2013] http://www.w3.org/wiki/images/6/6a/Actions_in_Schema.org_-_Draft_3.pdf
Received on Friday, 26 July 2013 20:15:26 UTC

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