The official blog of schema.org yesterday announced the release of version 1.92 of schema.org. The post, by Dan Brickley, states, “With this update we ‘soft launch’ a substantial collection of improvements that will form the basis for a schema.org version 2.0 release in early 2015. There remain a number of site-wide improvements, bugfixes and clarifications that we’d like to make before we feel ready to use the name ‘v2.0’. However the core vocabulary improvements are stable and available for use from today. As usual see the release notes page for details.” Read more
The W3C’s Web Components model is positioned to solve many of the problems that beset web developers today. “Developers are longing for the ability to have reusable, declarative, expressive components,” says Brian Sletten, a specialist in semantic web and next-generation technologies, software architecture, API design, software development and security, and data science, and president of software consultancy Bosatsu Consulting, Inc.
Web Components should fulfill that longing: With Templates, Custom Elements, Shadow DOM, and Imports draft specifications (and thus still subject to change), developers get a set of specifications for creating their web applications and elements as a set of reusable components. While most browsers don’t yet support these specifications, there are Web Component projects like Polymer that enable developers who want to start taking advantage of these capabilities right away to build Web objects and applications atop the specs today.
That in itself is exciting, Sletten says, but even more so is the connection he made that semantic markup can be added to any web component.
Have you wanted to get involved in the schema.org project? Your contribution to the collaborative effort driven by Bing, Google, Yahoo and Yandex for a shared markup vocabulary for web pages is more than welcome. As Dan Brickley, who is developer advocate at Google, noted during his presentation about schema.org’s progress to date at this summer’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference, the “pattern of collaboration with the project [is] we’re trying to push work off on people who are better qualified to do it, and then we mush it all together.”
What is meant by that is that the project is so broad, covering such a huge amount of topics, that the input of experts – whether from the library, media, sports or any other of the multitude of communities whose vocabularies are or aim to be represented – is incredibly valuable, and very much encouraged. In an overview of the 2013-2014 releases, which included TV/radio, civic services, and bibliographic additions, as well as accessibility properties, among others, Brickley related that during the year, “We listened a lot. We listened to people who knew better than us about accessibility, about how broadcast TV and radio are described, about describing social services, about libraries, journals, and ecommerce, and then integrated their suggestions into a unified set of schemas.”
- In a sample of over 12 billion web pages, 21 percent, or 2.5 billion pages, use it to mark up HTML pages, to the tune of more than 15 billion entities and more than 65 billion triples;
- In that same sample, this works out to six entities and 26 facts per page with schema.org;
- Just about every major site in every major category, from news to e-commerce (with the exception of Amazon.com), uses it;
- Its ontology counts some 800 properties and 600 classes.
A lot of it has to do with the focus its proponents have had since the beginning on making it very easy for webmasters and developers to adopt and leverage the collection of shared vocabularies for page markup. At this August’s 10th annual Semantic Technology & Business conference in San Jose, Google Fellow Ramanathan V. Guha, one of the founders of schema.org, shared the progress of the initiative to develop one vocabulary that would be understood by all search engines and how it got to where it is today.
Barbara Starr of Search Engine Land recently observed that, “Search is changing – and it’s changing faster than ever. Increasingly, we are seeing organic elements in search results being displaced by displays coming from the Knowledge Graph. Yet the shift from search over documents (e.g. web pages) to search over data (e.g. Knowledge Graph) is still in its infancy. Remember Google’s mission statement: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful. The Knowledge Graph was built to help with that mission. It contains information about entities and their relationships to one another – meaning that Google is increasingly able to recognize a search query as a distinct entity rather than just a string of keywords. As we shift further away from keyword-based search and more towards entity-based search, internal data quality is becoming more imperative.”
Mark Albertson of the Examiner recently wrote, “It was an unusual sight to be sure. Standing on a convention center stage together were computer engineers from the four largest search providers in the world (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing, and Yandex). Normally, this group couldn’t even agree on where to go for dinner, but this week in San Jose, California they were united by a common cause: the Semantic Web… At the Semantic Technology and Business Conference is San Jose this week, researchers from around the world gathered to discuss how far they have come and the mountain of work still ahead of them.” Read more
There is no doubt about it: Schema.org is a big success. It has motivated hundreds of thousands of Web site owners to add structured data markup to their HTML templates and brought the idea of exchanging structured data over the WWW from the labs and prototypes to real business.
Unfortunately, the support for information about the sales and rental of vehicles, namely cars, motorbikes, trucks, boats, and bikes has been insufficient for quite a while. Besides two simple classes for http://schema.org/Vehicle and http://schema.org/Car with no additional properties, there was nothing in the vocabulary that would help marking up granular vehicle information in new or used car listing sites or car rental offers.
Recently, Mirek Sopek, Karol Szczepański and I have released a fully-fledged extension proposal for schema.org that fixes this shortcoming and paves the ground for much better automotive Web sites in the light of marketing with structured data.
This proposal builds on the following vehicle-related extensions for GoodRelations, the e-commerce model of schema.org:
- Vehicle Sales Ontology (VSO), http://purl.org/vso/ns
- Volkswagen Vehicles Ontology (VVO), http://purl.org/vvo/ns
- Used Cars Ontology (UCO), http://purl.org/uco/ns
It adds the core classes, properties and enumerated values for describing cars, trucks, busses, bikes, and boats and their features. For describing commercial aspects of related offers, http://schema.org/Offer already provides the necessary level of detail. Thus, our proposal does not add new elements for commercial features.
Among the mainstream content management systems, you could make the case that Drupal was the first open source semantic CMS out there. At next week’s Semantic Technology and Business Conference, software engineer Stéphane Corlosquet of Acquia, which provides enterprise-level services around Drupal, and Bock & Co. principal Geoffrey Bock will discuss in this session Drupal’s role as a semantic CMS and how it can help organizations and institutions that are yearning to enrich their data with more semantics – for search engine optimization, yes, but also for more advanced use cases.
“It’s very easy to embed semantics in Drupal,” says Bock, who analyses and consults on digital strategies for content and collaboration. At its core it has the capability to manage semantic entities, and in the upcoming version 8 it takes things to a new level by including schema.org as a foundational data type. “It will become increasingly easier for developers to build and deliver semantically enriched environments,” he says, which can drive a better experience both for clients and stakeholders.
Corlosquet, who has taken a leadership role in building semantic web capabilities into Drupal’s core and maintains the RDF module in Drupal 7 and 8, explains that the closer embrace of schema.org in Drupal is of course a help when it comes to SEO and user engagement, for starters. Google uses content marked up using schema.org to power products like Rich Snippets and Google Now, too.
In Part 3 of this series, Jarek Wilkiewicz details activating the small Knowledge Graph (built on Cayley) with Schema.org Actions. He begins by explaining how Actions can be thought of as a combination of “Entities” (things) and “Affordances” (uses). As he defines it, “An affordance is a quality of an object, or an environment, which allows an individual to perform an action.”
For example, an action, might be using the “ok Google” voice command on a mobile device. The even more specific example that Wilkiewicz gives in the video (spoiler alert) is that of using the schema.org concept of potentialAction to trigger the playing of a specific artist’s music in a small music store’s mobile app.
To learn more, and to meet Jarek Wilkiewicz and his Google colleague, Shawn Simister, in person, register for the Semantic Technology & Business Conference where they will present “When 2 Billion Freebase Facts is Not Enough.”
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