Open Badges and JSON-LD

The BA standard working group has had adding extensions to the OB assertion specification high on its roadmap this summer. We agreed that before we could add an extension to an assertion or Badge Class, we needed to add machine readable schema definitions for the 1.0 standard.

We experimented with JSON-Schema, then JSON-LD. JSON-LD isn’t a schema validator, it’s much more. It builds linked data semantics on the JSON specification. JSON-LD adds several key features to JSON, most of which you can play around with in the JSON-LD node module.

  1. Add semantic data to a JSON structure, link the serialized object to an object type definition.
  2. Extend the object by linking to multiple object type definitions.
  3. A standard way to flatten and compress the data.
  4. Express the object in RDF.
  5. Treat the objects like a weighted graph.

All of which are features that support the concept behind the Open Badges standard very well. At its core, the OB standard is a way for one party (the issuer) to assert facts about another party (the earner). The assertion (the badge) becomes portable and displayable at the discretion of the owner of the badge.

JSON-LD is also quickly becoming the standard method of including semantic markup on html pages for large indexers like Google. Schema.org now lists JSON-LD examples alongside RDFa and Microdata. Google recommends using JSON-LD for inclusion in their rich snippet listings.

We’ve been talking about JSON-LD on the OB standard working group calls for a while now. It’s starting to feel like consensus is forming around inclusion of JSON-LD markup in the standard. This Tuesday, September 2nd 2014, we’ll meet again to collectively build a list of arguments for and against the move. We’ll also discuss a conditional rollout plan (conditional in that it will only be executed if we get the thumbs up from the community) and identify any gaps we need to cover with commitments from the community.

It’s going to be a great meeting, if you’re at all interested in JSON-LD and Open Badges, please join us!