[Crm-sig] URI Management [Issue 460]

Robert Sanderson azaroth42 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 27 16:33:35 EEST 2021

Reordering to most important first..

> should we use for the classes and properties of each version when serving
> RDF content? There are three options:
> *Option B1*. Always use an unversioned base URI, i.e.,
> http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/ for all ontology versions.

This is the correct answer, according to 2 decades of RDF / Semantic Web
In particular, FOAF, one of the earliest RDF ontologies and written by one
of the original authors for RDF Dan Brickley, warns us in the specification:

Much of FOAF now is considered stable. Each release of this specification
document has an incrementally increased version number, even while the
technical namespace ID remains fixed and includes the original value of
"0.1". *It long ago became impractical to update the namespace URI without
causing huge disruption to both producers and consumers of FOAF data. *We
are 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.

(emphasis added). http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/

Please, do NOT put a version number into the URIs. It makes everyone's
lives worse, and breaks interoperability between systems. It also makes it
much harder for people to upgrade systems and retract/republish data,
meaning we will leave folks behind in previous versions. It also makes it
harder to aggregate data, as the same property (say, P2) has different URIs
in different systems.

I would go so far as to say that, given we already have different RDFS and
OWL namespaces, that if there was further fragmentation, it would further
harm adoption and most users would simply pick the one that was easiest for
them given the already incompatible URIs.

In looking at similar topics (XML namespaces, API versions) the results are
the same -- URIs should be persistent, and versions / dates make them
either less persistent or appear out of date, both of which are harmful.

Thanasis has already made a point about not using versioned base URI:
> *"I am suggesting that classes do not need versions at all. Doing
> reasoning on a per class and per version basis would be bad practice, no?
> One would expect that the whole RDF/OWL representation would be used for
> reasoning. I think class URIs are only used as identifiers. This also
> avoids the problem of ensuring correct older versions for deprecated
> classes."*
> Thanasi, could you please elaborate more on this? It's not clear to us
> why/how reasoning considering a particular ontology version is affected
> when versioned URIs are used for the classes and properties.

As above, but Thansis is 100% correct - URIs are used as identifiers. We
wouldn't change the numbers in the ontology (E22, P2 etc) ... in RDF the
URI has the same function.

On Mon, Sep 27, 2021 at 6:41 AM Pavlos Fafalios via Crm-sig <
crm-sig at ics.forth.gr> wrote:

> Dear all,
> We (at FORTH) have started working on the URIs management issue, i.e. on
> how to provide resolvable URIs for the different versions of CIDOC-CRM and
> its compatible models. We would like to hear you opinion about the
> following:
> The URI http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/ will always resolve to the *last
> official* version of CIDOC-CRM ('official' according to the definition
> here <http://www.cidoc-crm.org/versions-of-the-cidoc-crm>).
> *A question (also raised by George) is if we want to point to the last
> 'published' version* (which is *"a stable version of the standard and can
> be used for implementation, referencing and any other official purpose"*).
> In parallel, each version will have its own versioned URI, e.g.,
> http://cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/7.1.1/ for version 7.1.1,
> http://cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/6.2.9/ for version  6.2.9, etc. etc.

Yes. Best practice would be that the documentation for each version has a
separate URI, and a common URI can be used to always refer to the latest
See: https://www.w3.org/2005/05/tr-versions

This is less important than (C) (people are better at concluding identity
than machines!) but still important :)

> Different content will be served based on the type of the HTTP request.
> So, if one asks for
>    http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/
> will get either the HTML content
> <http://cidoc-crm.org/versions/cidoc_crm_v7.1.1.html> of the last
> official version (using text/html content type),
> or the RDFS of the last official version (using rdf/xml content type).  We
> will do the same for also the versioned URIs.


> Now, if one requests a specific class or property, e.g.:
>    http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/E5_Event
> will either navigate to the part of HTML content of the last official
> version which describes this particular class
> <http://cidoc-crm.org/versions/cidoc_crm_v7.1.1.html#E5> (text/html
> request),
> or (for the case of rdf/xml) will get the entire RDFS of the last official
> version OR the star-view of that particular class (i.e., subclasses,
> superclasses, incoming properties, outgoing properties).

Star view, or just the term itself. You can always get the entire RDFS by
going to the namespace.

> *1/ Renamed*: When resolving a class/property (of a specific version)
> which has been renamed, we can point the user to the information about the
> renamed class (since semantics stay the same). For example:
> when asking for http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/E78_Collection
> <http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/7.1.1/E78_Collection>,
> users will get information about
> http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/E78_Curated_Holding
> <http://www.cidoc-crm.org/cidoc-crm/7.1.1/E78_Curated_Holding>
> (once URI resolving has been implemented)

Yes, and ... via an HTTP redirect to the new name for the class/property

> *2/ Deprecated*: When resolving a class/property (of a specific version)
> which has been deprecated, we (Pavlos and Elias) suggest not returning
> anything (404 response code).  In our opinion, this makes sense since the
> ontology version does not anymore contain the requested class/property. In
> the case of HTML content type, we can also point the user to the Migration
> Instructions (page 229
> <http://www.cidoc-crm.org/sites/default/files/cidoc_crm_v.7.1.1_0.pdf>).
> Any comments?

Yes, agreed.

> The plan is to follow the same approach for the compatible models. Here,
> it seems that having versioned URIs for the ontology and the extension
> models solves the problem of how to point to specific versions (as
> mentioned by Francesco). We just need to include the versioned namespaces
> of the considered models in the RDFS.

Yes, agreed.


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