Namespaces – Project Haystack


OverviewLibsProject Haystack LibsLib NamespacesProject NamespacesSymbolic Namespace


All defs are declared within a lib or library module. A namespace is a set of libs that define a mapping of symbols to defs. All applications using Haystack are performed within the context of a namespace. Namespaces define the defs in scope for reflection, querying, and symbolic linking.


Libs, or libraries, are the fundamental unit of modularity in Project Haystack. Every def must be defined inside a parent lib. The normalized representation of every def has a lib tag with a symbolic link to its parent library. However, the lib tag itself is never declared explicitly. Rather, it is always implied during load time as part of normalization.

Libs are defined as a zip file with one or more Trio files under the "lib/" directory. There must be a file named "lib/lib.trio" which specifies exactly one dict for the lib's metadata. The lib metadata should declare the following tags:

  • def: must be a feature key under the lib feature
  • doc: must provide a description of the library
  • version: identifies the version as series of integers separated by dot
  • baseUri: an absolute URI used to map symbols to URIs (used by RDF)
  • depends: a list symbolic names to libs specifying dependencies

Any other Trio files under "lib/" contain the lib's defs. These files may be named anything you like, but must have the ".trio" file extension (all lower case).

Here is an example for lib:phIoT:

def: ^lib:phIoT
doc: "Project Haystack definitions for Internet of Things"
version: "4.0.2"
baseUri: ``
depends: [^lib:ph, ^lib:phScience]

Lib name must be globally unique and should be chosen carefully. Project Haystack reserves lib names prefixed with "ph".

Project Haystack Libs

Project Haystack currently defines four standardized libs:

  • lib:ph: core definitions
  • lib:phScience: definitions related to scientific phenomenon and quantities
  • lib:phIoT: definitions related to domain of Internet of Things and the built environment
  • lib:phIct: definitions related to Information and Communication Technology

Future Project Haystack lib names will be always be prefixed with "ph".

Lib Namespaces

Libs import external names into their local namespace via the depends tag. All libs must include lib:ph (with the exception of lib:ph itself). The namespace of all included defs and locally defined defs in a library is called the lib namespace.

Only names found in the lib's namespace may be used for definition tag names or symbol values. For example, if a def needs to subtype from the equip tag, then its lib must declare an include on lib:phIoT to bring equip into the namespace. It is invalid to use a tag name or symbol value in a def that is not found in the lib's namespace.

Project Namespaces

Individual Haystack projects may pick and choose which libs are used to define their application specific data. We call this def namespace the project namespace. Project namespaces will often be a mix of standardized libs, vendor specific libs, and project specific libs. It is outside the scope of this specification to define how libs are included or enabled for project namespaces. However, all project namespaces must have a mechanism to formally specify/export which libs are in scope. This is best accomplished through the libs HTTP API operation (TODO).

Symbolic Namespace

A namespace is defined strictly by a list of libs and their corresponding children defs. Thus, we can logically model a namespace as a map of symbol names to defs.

Within a namespace, we use symbol names as simple unqualified names. This works very much like mainstream programming languages. For example, in Java, if you want to use java.util.List then you typically import the java.util package and then use the simple name List in your code. Likewise, if you want to use the equip tag, then you include lib:phIoT into your own lib and use the tag name equip. We always use simple names in both defs and in our Haystack data.

So that begs the question: what if there is a naming conflict and two different libs declare the same symbol name? Currently that is considered an error and those two libs cannot be used together. As a pragmatic course of action, a def name should be globally unique to avoid conflicts. With conjucts, it's fairly easy to coin unique symbol names when a term has different definitions. This pattern is similiar to how Wikipedia uses a disambiguation term in parenthesis to maintain a single global namespace for articles.