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f794d53 Oct 2, 2018
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@dmitrizagidulin @deiu @squarejaw @elf-pavlik
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Solid Application Data Discovery

The following describes application data discovery in the Solid framework using HTTP link following aka "follow your nose". This should not be confused with Application Configuration Discovery or Storage Discovery.

Note: The Type Registry is mainly intended as a Library discovery mechanism. We recommend that coarse-grained library types are registered (usually types that match containers as opposed to every RDF Class written by an app).

Specifically, the Type Registry provides a way for a client application to discover where a user keeps data relevant to this app, without either:

a. Prompting the user to select the location of every relevant instance or container, or b. Scanning through the entire dataspace/root storage of the user.

For example, when a user installs a new Contacts Manager app, the app does not need to scan all of the containers in a user's storage, looking for relevant Contacts or AddressBook resources. Instead, it can query the Type Index registry and discover only the resources and containers it cares about.

Data Discovery Workflow

Solid client apps use the following workflow to discover where data resides in a user's dataspace:

  1. Start with the WebID URI.
  2. Use it to fetch the WebID Profile Document.
  3. Parse the profile and load the other Extended Profile resources, which includes the Preferences file and any owl:sameAs and rdfs:seeAlso links.
  4. From the Extended Profile, extract the registry links (the solid:publicTypeIndex predicate link to the public Listed Type Index registry, and the solid:privateTypeIndex predicate link to the private Unlisted Type Index registry).
  5. Load one or both of the Type Index registry documents, as appropriate, and query them for the location of RDF Types that the app cares about.

Example WebID Profile snippet, with links to both type index resources:

@prefix solid: <https://www.w3.org/ns/solid/terms#>.
# ...
<#me>
    a foaf:Person;
    # Listed type index resource:
    solid:publicTypeIndex </settings/publicTypeIndex.ttl> ;  
    # Unlisted type index resource:
    solid:privateTypeIndex </settings/privateTypeIndex.ttl> .

Type Index Registry

The Solid Type Index Registry consists of two Type Index resources, a Listed Type Index (publicly readable by default) and an Unlisted Type Index (readable by the owner only, by default). Each of those resources contains registry entries that map a specific resource type to a location in the user's data space.

Type Index Registrations

The type index resources contain any number of statements of type solid:TypeRegistration which map RDF classes/types to their locations in a user's dataspace/root storage.

The registration entries map a type to a location using one of two predicates:

solid:instance

maps a type to an individual Solid resource, typically an index or a directory listing resource such as an Address Book.

solid:instanceContainer

maps a type to a Solid container which the client would have to list to get the instances of that type.

An example Listed Type Index resource might contain:

# Maps the type vcard:AddressBook to an index document
<#ab09fd> a solid:TypeRegistration;
    solid:forClass vcard:AddressBook;
    solid:instance </contacts/myPublicAddressBook.ttl>.

# Maps the type sioc:Post to a container
<#ab09cc> a solid:TypeRegistration;
    solid:forClass sioc:Post;
    solid:instanceContainer </posts/>.

Changing the status of a registration (from a Listed index to an Unlisted or vice versa) involves removing that registration (typically via a SPARQL-based HTTP PATCH) from the one and adding it (also via a PATCH) to the other.

Listed Type Index

The Listed Type Index is intended for registrations that are discoverable by outside users and applications. For example, think of a listed phone number in a public phonebook, which contains publicly-discoverable mappings of people's names to phone numbers and addresses.

The Listed (public) Type Index has the following properties:

  • Is linked to from the WebID Profile using the solid:publicTypeIndex predicate
  • Is created in /settings/publicTypeIndex.ttl by default
  • Has a public-readable ACL by default
  • Is of type solid:ListedDocument

Example Listed Type Index resource containing one registration entry:

@prefix solid: <https://www.w3.org/ns/solid/terms#>.
# ...
<>
    a solid:TypeIndex ;
    a solid:ListedDocument.

<#ab09fd> a solid:TypeRegistration;
    solid:forClass vcard:AddressBook;
    solid:instance </contacts/myPublicAddressBook.ttl>.

Unlisted Type Index

The Unlisted Type Index resource is intended for registrations that are private to the user and their apps, for types that are not publicly discoverable.

The Unlisted (private) Type Index has the following properties:

  • Is typically linked to from the Preferences file (or some other private section of an Extended Profile) using the solid:privateTypeIndex predicate
  • Is created in /settings/privateTypeIndex.ttl by default
  • Has a private ACL by default (readable only by the owner)
  • Is of type solid:UnlistedDocument

Example Unlisted Type Index resource:

@prefix solid: <https://www.w3.org/ns/solid/terms#>.
@prefix sioc: <http://rdfs.org/sioc/ns#>.
# ...
<>
    a solid:TypeIndex ;
    a solid:UnlistedDocument.

<#ab09cc> a solid:TypeRegistration;
    solid:forClass sioc:Post;
    solid:instanceContainer </personal-diary/>.