actionstatusThis week saw schema.org introduce vocabulary that enables websites to describe the actions they enable and how these actions can be invoked, in the hope that these additions will help unleash new categories of applications, according to a new post by Dan Brickley.

This represents an expansion of the vocabulary’s focus point from describing entities to taking action on these entities. The work has been in progress, Brickley explains here, for the last couple of years, building on the http://schema.org/Action types added last August by providing a way of describing the capability to perform actions in the future.

The three action status type now includes PotentialActionStatus for a description of an action that is supported, ActiveActionStatus for an in-progress action, and CompletedActionStatus, for an action that has already taken place.

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As described by the W3C here, actions allows the machine-readable brokering language between providers, registries and consumers, using case grammar and framenet to define the semantic roles that are relevant to each verb (for example, LendAction has a borrower slot).

"This is perhaps the most interesting addition to schema.org since launch," Brickley writes.

Interest Is Piqued

The work is getting a lot of attention, including observations about how what schema.org has accomplished now may overlap with past efforts, such as Web Service Modeling Ontology. In response, Brickley explains that, “The interesting thing this time around is that schema.org Actions are not just an abstract architecture, but come packaged alongside a large supporting vocabulary. And the vocabulary in turn covers more than just the action types themselves, but also provides various other necessary types and properties that are needed to put the abstractions into practice.”

Alexandre Passant, co-founder of music discovery service seevl and formerly a researcher at DERI working on the SIOC Actions vocabulary for making the content of the web more usable by machines, has explored the impact in his blog here. Calling the addition a timely move given the recent advances on structured web data, he describes scenarios such as Facebook, Deezer, Twitter and Instagram publishing actions using the new ListenAction type, so that he could “use a single query engine to get the data [related to his listening history] from those different endpoints” rather than separately retrieve it from Facebook’s Graph API or Twitter’s feeds.

“Ultimately, that means that every service could gather data from different sources to meaningfully extract information about myself, and deliver a personalized experiences as soon as I log in,” he writes – which isn’t as much the case today with these services as you’d assume, he explains.

You can review more about what is incorporated at version 1.2 of the site that integrates the new vocabulary:
* http://schema.org/potentialAction
* http://schema.org/PotentialActionStatus
* http://schema.org/PropertyValueSpecification
* http://schema.org/ActionStatusType
* http://schema.org/actionStatus
* http://schema.org/EntryPoint
* http://schema.org/ActiveActionStatus
* http://schema.org/CompletedActionStatus
* http://schema.org/PotentialActionStatus