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This is a charter for a taskforce of the W3C Semantic Web Interest Group. The Web Schemas Task Force is devoted to practical issues around data schemas for large-scale use in the public Web.
The group will use W3C's Wiki and the public-vocabs list. For IRC discussions, #schema is available on irc.freenode.net, alongside the existing #swig (logs) and #microformats (logs) channels. There is also the microformats wiki nearby.
TF chair: R.V.Guha (Google).
The Web is a decentralized, pluralistic system, and the world is too complex for any single, non-extensible or monolithic schema to fully describe. Web publishers, with limited resources and attention, have recently started publishing simple factual data embedded in mainstream Web content - e.g. using Microformats conventions, RDFa, HTML5 and Microdata. For such purposes, simplicity, usability and ease of adoption are critically important. Recent initiatives such as Facebook's Open Graph Protocol and Google/Bing/Yahoo!'s Schema.org announcement have emphasised simple, tightly constrained vocabularies that emphasise ease of adoption over expressiveness. Meanwhile, many Web-based APIs expose similar data using schemas expressed in JSON or XML (e.g. based on Atom/RSS), with initiatives such as Portable Contacts and Activity Streams often maintaining both XML and JSON encodings.
The taskforce's focus is on collaboration around vocabularies (e.g. Dublin Core and others), mappings (e.g. see schema.rdfs.org, DBpedia, OGP), and around syntax-neutral vocabulary design and tooling, rather than questions of markup. In practice, it is not always easy to make such sharp distinctions, and we anticipate the group may be a useful source of use cases and test cases for nearby activities, such as the W3C's investigations around RDFa and Microdata, or the Microformats-2 discussions.
This taskforce was created from an appreciation of both decentralized, pluralistic vocabulary development and the benefits of a more tightly coordinated effort. The forum is offered as a place where any project or group can offer some accountability and dialog around their work and where both industry consortium and loosely-coordinated initiatives of individuals can take the opportunity to articulate how their efforts relate to each other.
Participants are encouraged to use the group to take practical steps towards interoperability amongst diverse schemas, e.g. through development of mappings, extensions and supporting tools. Those participants who maintain vocabularies in any format designed for wide-scale public Web use are welcome to also to participate in the group as a 'feedback channel', including practicalities around syntax, encoding and extensibility (which will be relayed to other W3C groups as appropriate).
In-scope topics include:
Out of scope topics include:
This is a public group, and does not itself produce specifications. Instead, it provides a forum in which creators and maintainers of data schemas (aka vocabularies, ontologies) can engage with each other and with those who publish and consume such data.