RDF Working Group Charter

The mission of the RDF Working Group, part of the Semantic Web Activity, is to update the 2004 version of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) Recommendation. The scope of work is to extend RDF to include some of the features that the community has identified as both desirable and important for interoperability based on experience with the 2004 version of the standard, but without having a negative effect on existing deployment efforts.

Join the RDF Working Group.

End date 31 January 2013
ConfidentialityProceedings are public
Initial Chairs David Wood, Talis
Guus Schreiber, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Initial Team Contacts
Sandro Hawke (0.2 FTE)
Ivan Herman (0.2 FTE)
Usual Meeting ScheduleTeleconferences: Weekly (full group), plus possible weekly for task forces
Face-to-face: 1-3 F2F meetings are planned per year, but chairs have to prerogative to call additional meetings if the work requires or decide not to call a F2F if budget or timing requirements make it difficult to organize.


The Resource Description Framework (RDF), the first layer of the Semantic Web, became a W3C Recommendation in 1999. A major revision was published in 2004, including the general concepts, its semantics, and an XML Serialization (RDF/XML) syntax.

Since then, several newer standards based on RDF have been published, including SPARQL, OWL 2, POWDER, SKOS, and RIF. Through this standardization work, the thriving R&D activities in the area, and an ongoing deployment of these technologies across multiple industries, a number of issues regarding RDF came to the fore. In June 2010 the W3C held a workshop to gather feedback and begin to determine if another revision of RDF is warranted and, if so, which elements should be added or clarified. The workshop established a list of possible work items which was summarized by the report of the workshop. This was followed by a public discussion on various email lists and fora as well as a public questionnaire set up by W3C and which was answered by 126 people from the community. The current charter reflects a consensus reached through those discussions and responses.


Compatibility and Deployment Expectation

For all new features, backwards compatibility with the current version of RDF is of great importance. This means that all efforts should be made so that

Care should be taken to not jeopardize exisiting RDF deployment efforts and adoption. In case of doubt, the guideline should be not to include a feature in the set of additions if doing so might raise backward compatibility issues.

New Features and Changes

This charter provides two lists of features: “Required features” and “Time-permitting features”. The former includes features whose inclusion in the final recommendations is required for the Working Group to successfully complete its charter, whereas the latter includes features that the Working Group should consider adding to the final recommendation, but which may be abandoned if the Working Group has insufficient time or resources, or the features would violate the backward compatbility or deployment concerns. The Working Group is expected to give priority in allocating resources to the required features until they are completed.

Beyond the explicit features listed below, the Working Group will also look at the official RDF Errata document and all formally recorded error reports, and introduce changes as appropriate.


Required features
Time permitting features

Support for Multiple Graphs and Graph Stores

The RDF Community has used the term “named graphs” for a number of years in various settings, but this term is ambiguous, and often refers to what could rather be referred as quoted graphs, graph literals, URIs for graphs, knowledge bases, graph stores, etc. The term “Support for Multiple Graphs and Graph Stores” is used as a neutral term in this charter; this term is not and should not be considered as definitive. The Working Group will have to define the right term(s).

Required features

Changes/modification to the RDF concepts, model, or semantics

Required features
Time Permitting features


Required features

Out of Scope

Some features are explicitly out of scope for the Working Group


The Working Group will publish a series of documents on the basis of the 2004 version of the RDF recommendation. I.e., the following documents may be updated:

but the Working Group may decide to re-structure these documents into another set of documents. How this is done is left to the discretion of the Working Group. Furthermore, it is also expected that two new documents will be published as W3C Recommendations, although, again, the exact document structure and titles are not defined by the charter and will be decided by the Working Group:

The 2004 version of RDF also includes two more Recommendations: an RDF Primer and RDF Test Cases. Although the Working Group may update these documents, it may also decide to publish the new versions as W3C Working Group Notes.


This section simply refers to “RDF Recommendation Set” as a collection of W3C Recommendations that together define the new version of RDF. The exact editorial structure of these documents is to be defined by the Working Group

Note: The group will document significant changes from this initial schedule on the group home page.
Specification FPWD LC CR PR Rec or Note
RDF Recommendation Set May 2011 May 2012 August 2012 November 2012 January 2013
RDF Primer January 2012 June 2012 n/a November 2012(*) January 2013
RDF Test Cases May 2012 June 2012 August 2012 November 2012(*) January 2013
(*) In case the Working Group decides to publish the document as a W3C Note, then this step is non applicable.

Timeline View Summary

Dependencies and Liaisons

W3C Groups

Semantic Web Coordination Group
To ensure synchronization with all other Working and Interest Groups in the Semantic Web Activity.
Internationalization Activity
To ensure that the handling of RDF literals and resources make RDF usable for all possible encoding and languages; to ensure that the adoption of IRI-s abides to the requirements of Internationalization.
SPARQL Working Group
To synchronize on issues that might be taken over from the SPARQL Recommendations: IRI usage, usage of named graphs, RDF and RDFS Entailment Regimes.
RDFa Working Group
The RDF Working Group may decide to use RDFa 1.1’s @profile mechanism as part of the JSON and/or the Turtle Recommendations; in this case compatibility with the RDFa mechanism should be ensured.
Web Application Working Group
To ensure that the new version of RDF is better adapted to rich Web Clients (e.g., when making design choices on a JSON RDF Serialization)

External Groups

IETF IRI Working Group
To cooperate on the usage of IRIs, both on the model and the syntax level


To be successful, the RDF Working Group is expected to have 10 or more active participants for its duration. Effective participation to RDF Working Group is expected to consume one work day per week for each participant; two days per week for editors. The RDF Working Group will allocate also the necessary resources for building Test Suites for each specification.

The Working Group welcomes participation from representatives of W3C Member organizations. To enable a broad spectrum of input, the group also anticipates the active participation of individuals as W3C Invited Experts (read the policy for approval of Invited Experts). Participation from W3C Members and non-Members alike will help ensure the goals of this charter are effectively addressed. Invited Experts in this group are not granted access to Member-only information.

Participants are reminded of the Good Standing requirements of the W3C Process.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-rdf-wg@w3.org (archive).

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the RDF Working Group home page.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the RDF Working Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the RDF Working Group has been created according to section 6.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Sandro Hawke, Ivan Herman, W3C Staff Contacts, David Wood and Guus Schreiber, Working Group co-chairs

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