[foaf-dev] Re: updated FOAF spec

Shadi Abou-Zahra shadi at w3.org
Fri May 25 12:58:12 BST 2007

Hi Dan,

Thank for this publication, it is a significant first step! It will 
certainly also help us in ERT WG (CC'ed) to justify our direct 
dependency on the FOAF vocabulary.

We may have some additional comments or thoughts to this version of the 
spec, and I still owe you the translations for the terms we are using in 
EARL 1.0 (will be fun to translate mbox ;) ). I will get back to you as 
soon as possible.


Dan Brickley wrote:
> Hi all
> I've just published a modest update to the FOAF spec. In a break with 
> tradition I've given the specification a version number (rather than 
> just the nickname, which the last few versions have had). We're 0.9, for 
> those who're counting.
> New in this edition:
>  * foaf:Organization, foaf:Agent and foaf:maker/made now marked 'stable'
>  * sensible this version / latest version / previous version links
>  * dated snapshot of html and rdf files, at publication time
>  * separated namespace version (eternal "0.1") from spec version (0.9)
>  * the general "FOAF spec" url is now http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec
>  * this version is http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/20070524.html
>  * namespace URI remains http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/
>  * creeping professionalism (scrubbed various TODOs, the broken ToC etc)
>  * HTTP configuration (tweaks maybe needed)
>  * RDF (ie. the RDFS/OWL) discovery is easier:
>   * curl -H "Accept: application/rdf+xml" http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/
>   * embedded RDF/XML in the spec (wellformed but non-validating XHTML,
>     so I have removed the link to validator.w3.org for now)
>   * added 'link rel="alternate"' to document header and a plain
>     hyperlink from "this version" pointer.
>  * added short section on the Semantic Web,
>    http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#sec-sw
>  * numerous modest edits, see http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#sec-changes
> More important than the specific edits here, ... the tool chain for 
> managing the spec, and the URL layout, is healthy again. There is 
> clearly plenty that can be done to improve the spec (rambling prose, 
> missing examples etc.), but, well ... gotta start somewhere. For those 
> concerned (quite righly) about the stability vs
> evolution tradeoffs, I hope this helps. In particular I added some 
> language in http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#sec-evolution to explain how 
> something can attempt to be stable and moving at the same time.
> [[
> The FOAF vocabulary is identified by the namespace URI 
> 'http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/'. Revisions and extensions of FOAF are 
> conducted through edits to this document, which by convention is 
> accessible in the Web via the namespace URI. For practical and 
> deployment reasons, note that we do not update the namespace URI as the 
> vocabulary matures.
> The core of FOAF now is considered stable, and the version number of 
> this specification reflects this stability. However, it long ago became 
> impractical to update the namespace URI without causing huge disruption 
> to both producers and consumers of FOAF data. We are therefore left with 
> the digits "0.1" in our URI. This stands as a warning to all those who 
> might embed metadata in their vocabulary identifiers.
> The evolution of FOAF is best considered in terms of the stability of 
> individual vocabulary terms, rather than the specification as a whole. 
> As terms stabilise in usage and documentation, they progress through the 
> categories 'unstable', 'testing' and 'stable'.
> ]]
> Also as noted in the status for this revision, 
> http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#sec-status
> [[
> FOAF has been evolving gradually since its creation in mid-2000. There 
> is now a stable core of classes and properties that will not be changed, 
> beyond modest adjustments to their documentation to track implementation 
> feedback and emerging best practices. New terms may be added at any time 
> (as with a natural-language dictionary), and consequently this 
> specification is an evolving work. The FOAF RDF namespace, by contrast, 
> is fixed and it's identifier is not expected to change. Furthermore, 
> efforts are underway to ensure the long-term preservation of the FOAF 
> namespace, its xmlns.com domain name and associated documentation.
> ]]
> Feedback, suggestions etc welcomed.
> cheers,
> Dan

Shadi Abou-Zahra     Web Accessibility Specialist for Europe |
Chair & Staff Contact for the Evaluation and Repair Tools WG |
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