Report: Provenance Working Group 2nd Face-to-Face Meeting

The Provenance Working Group just had its second F2F meeting where we made substantial progress on a number of issues in creating a way to interchange provenance on the Web. We wanted to let the community know where were at and where we are going.

Overall, we have a good set of first drafts of the PROV family of documents but there’s still a ways to go in getting them all in-line with each other and well presented such that they are useful to the developer and user communities. This meeting focused on the issues of how we can make rapid progress while achieving that goal.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
We heard the response to our first working drafts and have been simplifying the PROV Data Model. Our mantra has been simplify, simplify, simplify. You’ll see some of it in our recent 3rd Working Draft of PROV-DM. But there’s still a ways to go to get the document where we want it to be, in particular, in terms of how constructs and concepts are explained.

While most of the constructs will remain the same, at the F2F meeting, we agreed to simplify the notion of account (a container for provenance) to focus on the use case of provenance of provenance.

Two Broad Use Cases
At the meeting, it became clear that one of the hard parts of devising a common interchange format was being able to support the group’s two broad use cases:

  1. The ability to use the PROV vocabulary to make provenance statements about existing things on the Web. Think for example adding simple provenance metadata (i.e. authorship) in a web page.
  2. The ability to exchange PROV information between provenance systems where a static or fixed view of data is key. This is common in current provenance tracking systems. Think exchanging information between version control systems or two scientific workflow systems.

This realization helped the group in thinking about how to best explain PROV. Since PROV supports both use cases, we will aiming to first explain how to use it in the broad case and then describe how one can use it in use cases that require a more exacting view.

Working with Dublin Core
At the working group we are always aware of existing provenance vocabularies on the Web. In particular, we are excited that Kai Eckert will be leading a best practice document on how PROV works with Dublin Core one of the most widely use provenance vocabularies on the Web.

The Community
If you’re interested in PROV, we encourage you to first begin with the PROV-Primer. This is the best place to get an understanding of PROV. In the next two months, we’ll be producing updated working drafts. We hope to have a complete set for the community to review. In the meantime, we are always interested in your input. If your using PROV now, please let us know.

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