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Re: LC: Opposing OWL/XML format

From: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 10:50:11 -0500
Cc: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>, Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>, W3C OWL Working Group <public-owl-wg@w3.org>
Message-Id: <8A437149-3484-4CA2-ADA9-7971D13723D6@creativecommons.org>
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.manchester.ac.uk>


On Jan 27, 2009, at 4:55 AM, Bijan Parsia wrote:

>> GRDDL... well, if we had a 'standard' mapping from OWL/XML to RDF/XML
>> via a GRDDL transformation then this could be a very good argument  
>> here
>> in favour of OWL/XML. And we may have that, right?:-)
>
> Well, I think we do already :) But if you mean an XSLT, then we can  
> do the wrapper thing quickly. Rees indicated that that wasn't  
> acceptable!
>
> Verra strange.

Sorry to pop back into the WG after paying it no attention for months.  
(I really wish I had a lot more time to put into OWL.) I hope it's OK  
for me to hop the wall from the comments list to this one.

Maybe you missed where I said my reason to dislike the web service  
(XSLT+CGI) was that it was complicated and fragile. I think you should  
investigate using a real XSLT that is more easily invoked locally, as  
I assume you had intended  to do before Alan sidetracked you with the  
CGI hack. That ought to be straightforward (although I don't know,  
since I haven't tried it) and would remove this objection. Put the  
XSLT informatively in your document and you're done.

One reason - maybe the only reason - to standardize a notation is to  
reduce the number of ways to things are written. I think this is an a  
priori reason to oppose additional syntaxes, and it puts Frank van  
Harmelen on the high ground. You standardize in order to limit  
options, including superior ones, making a choice to sacrifice  
flexibility and utility for stability and uniformity.

I see your point about XML toolchains. The question is a judgment call  
on the acceptable burden on those creating OWL processors. Each straw  
you add - each new syntax or feature - could break some camel's back.  
Maybe that would be a camel you don't care about. I'm making the  
judgment call that local XSLT is OK (because XSLT is pervasive), web  
service is not (fragile), open source Java application is not (complex  
and fragile). You might ask Frank's group whether they would agree  
with me, or if even given published XSLT they would feel the burden is  
too high.

I'm a bit skeptical about Ivan's claim that RDF/XML is the only  
required exchange format. Even if this is made clear (sorry, I haven't  
encountered this statement yet, can you tell me where it is?) there is  
a chance that a recommendations to use all formats will lead to  
irresistible pressure to accept all formats.

If you're saying OWL/XML is going to exist no matter what, and should  
therefore be standardized, that's a bit different from the way it  
looks now - which is like a buffet where a picky eater can choose  
whichever dish they like best. The story has to be instead that you  
have multiple screw sizes because of different application  
requirements (toolchain, installed base, etc.). Any time you can  
recommend that certain forms *not* be used for certain applications  
(e.g. OWL/XML should not be used for exchange) that will make life  
easier for developers. (Creating a media type for OWL/XML looks to me  
like an endorsement of its use for exchange, but probably I read too  
much into "Intended usage - COMMON, Restrictions on usage - None" in  
section 4.)

In any case, if OWL/XML stays, I hope that later drafts of the new  
features document capture much of what you have just provided as a  
rationale. I found it informative.

Jonathan
Received on Tuesday, 27 January 2009 15:50:51 GMT

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