On our last community call was on November 30th, we continued discussing the Frictionless Specs update with community members. As a reminder, thanks to the generous support of NLnet (opens new window), the Frictionless core team at Open Knowledge Foundation, together with a working group composed of members of the community, is now working on a v2 of the Specs. Read the announcement blog (opens new window) to know more about it.
# Ideas that were shared
First of all, as captured in the last call, we took into account the group’s concerns about the shortness of the initial timeline we proposed, we were able to work out an extension of the initial time frame until mid-2024. We are now aiming at releasing v2 of the Frictionless specs by June 2024.
The Specs update was officially announced on GitHub (opens new window) and a GitHub team was set up. If you are interested in joining let us know. Getting involved is very low-barrier, you just need to subscribe to the GitHub issues to receive all the updates.
As outlined in the announcement blog, we want to put some extra effort into diversifying our group, as we think that more diversity could definitely benefit our group, especially at a time in which we are rethinking parts of it. Our community is super collaborative in that sense, and new people who would be interested in standards development have been invited to join.
To make sure we are capturing as many branches of knowledge as possible, an idea that was brought up is to perform a quick analysis of Zenodo’s datasets by field to figure out the distribution across different fields, and see how our distribution within the working group compares to that, to understand where our gaps are.
We also acknowledge that the Frictionless Data project has a steep learning curve. As a community, we often operate with a developer mindset, employing specialised terminology without enough explanations. That’s why, our commitment to fostering diversity must begin with ensuring that all our documentation is accessible. Achieving this goal is within reach if we all took time to review the documentation to make sure it is accessible to the broader audience possible, including beginners, and ensuring its overall coherence. We did a big documentation review with the community in the past (opens new window), and it was a great success.
An essential component for achieving this objective is the development of clear onboarding materials that are easy to understand. Leveraging existing resources, such as Frictionless Fellows’ materials (opens new window), can serve as a foundation for building a comprehensive knowledge base. We must also prioritise the creation of additional tutorials for any kind of audience, including those with limited programming skills, and those who primarily conduct data curation in Microsoft Excel. In that sense, our current focus is on empowering individuals with lower to no programming skills, particularly as we continue to develop the Open Data Editor (opens new window).
Ideally, we would like to organise outreach events too, hands on activities with people working with data, to see how Frictionless tooling could benefit their data workflow.
Of course, the release of v2 is not the end point for this effort.
Under the NLnet grant, we will build a new website dedicated to Data Package (to be online soon), with a better narrative, making it easier for newcomers to understand (e.g. how to use Frictionless specs with Excel). The current Specs website (opens new window) will be kept to document the v1 of the standards.
# Immediate next steps
We will update the contributions guide.
In December, due to holidays and limited capacity of people, we will focus on low-hanging fruits. Of course anyone who would like to start working on an issue is very welcome to do so. If you are part of the working group you have the right permission to push PRs, so please go ahead.
We will try to simplify JSON schemas and the way extensions are generated. The Frictionless modular approach will be of course kept. Our aim is to be as technology agnostic and no-code as possible.
We will keep Specs and tooling implementing them clearly separated.
# How to participate?
Go and have a look at the issue queue on GitHub (opens new window), and feel free to jump on any of the issue to propose a solution / start a discussion.
Note that the v2 milestone is just an estimation to understand the scope of this release. We tried to carve out what we thought it was important to discuss about or take into consideration, but we don’t need to action every single issue on the list.
We are co-hosting the Open Research Devroom at FOSDEM 2024 (opens new window) again this year. We are looking for developers & users of free libre open source technology for scientific research, investigative journalism, data journalism, activism, OSINT.
Call for Participation is open until December 10th, we strongly encourage you to apply!
For those who cannot make it to Brussels on February 3rd, we are going to host an online session the week after.
# Join us in Janaury!
Next community call is on January 25th, join us to hear all the exciting news about the Frictionless specs (opens new window) update!
Do you have something you would like to present to the community at one of the upcoming calls? Let us know via this form (opens new window), or come and tell us on our community chat on Slack (opens new window)(also accessible via a Matrix bridge (opens new window) if you prefer to use an open protocol).
You can sign up for the call already here (opens new window). Do you want to share something with the community? Let us know when you sign up.
# Call Recording
Here is the recording of the full call:
# Thank you
On a final note, we would like to thank all community members that joined the call and that keep all these discussions alive, and those who manifested their interest in joining the specs working group. Without you, all of this would not be possible.