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Re: Schema.org Actions - an update and call for review

From: James M Snell <jasnell@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2013 14:21:00 -0700
Message-ID: <CABP7RbdT8n5B2bpYauzhWb5HcbzoEiDNWExzgTdZOOGO+Whx6w@mail.gmail.com>
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@google.com>
Cc: W3C Web Schemas Task Force <public-vocabs@w3.org>
This looks to be a much more solid piece of work than the previous
proposals; and, assuming that things progress with my proposed
Activity Streams 2.0 update [1], the two models ought to be able to
live comfortably side-by-side, which is very good.

[1] https://github.com/jasnell/json-activity/blob/2.0/draft-snell-activitystreams-02.txt

As an exercise, I drafted up a few quick examples using the AS 2.0
syntax mapped to the schema.org model, just to make sure that things
line up well. (These use a JSON-LD @context to provide the mapping)

  "objectType": "http://schema.org/WinAction",
  "verb": "win",
  "actor": "acct:joe@example.org",
  "object": "urn:example:games:tag",
  "startTime": "2013-07-26T12:12:12Z",
  "@context": {
    "objectType": "@type",
    "actor": "http://schema.org/agent",
    "object": "http://schema.org/object",
    "startTime": "http://schema.org/startTime"

  "objectType": "http://schema.org/ChooseAction",
  "verb": "choose",
  "actor": "acct:joe@example.org",
  "object": "urn:example:options:1",
  "options": [
  "@context": {
    "objectType": "@type",
    "actor": "http://schema.org/agent",
    "object": "http://schema.org/object",
    "options": "http://schema.org/option"

  "objectType": "http://schema.org/WatchAction",
  "verb": "watch",
  "actor": "acct:joe@example.org",
  "object": {
    "objectType": {
      "id": "http://schema.org/Movie",
      "alias": "video"
    "displayName": "Die Hard"
  "@context": {
    "objectType": "@type",
    "id": "@id",
    "actor": "http://schema.org/agent",
    "object": "http://schema.org/object",
    "options": "http://schema.org/option"

- James

On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 1:14 PM, Dan Brickley <danbri@google.com> wrote:
> 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
> http://sdo-actions.appspot.com/docs/full.html
> * An alternate HTML view is available at
> http://pastehtml.com/view/d957mb0uc.html
> * Source files in RDFa/RDFS (ActionBase.html, ActionTypes.html) are in
> W3C's WebSchemas mercurial repo,
> https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/webschema/file/default/schema.org/ext
> 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
> book*".
> 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.
> cheers,
> 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 21:21:48 UTC

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