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Re: Comments on rq24 reorganization

From: Seaborne, Andy <andy.seaborne@hp.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 15:30:21 +0100
Message-ID: <450815FD.2010707@hp.com>
To: Simon Raboczi <raboczi@itee.uq.edu.au>
CC: RDF Data Access Working Group <public-rdf-dawg@w3.org>

(I'm presuming this was intended for the working group list, not he comments 
list.  If that's wrong, I can reply on the comments list.  This message is 
mainly tracking editorial input (do I need to track that now?)

Simon Raboczi wrote:
> This is my comparison of the relative merits of the current rq23  
> specification [1] and its reorganized rq24 variant [2].  It's  
> somewhat different from Lee Feigenbaum's previous series of messages  
> [3][4][5] which were instead a review of rq24 itself.  What I've  
> tried to do is describe what's moved where, and how I feel about each  
> of the changes.
> I'll start with the conclusion.  At a structural level, rq24 is  
> definitely an improvement on rq23, and is a better way forward.  I  
> don't doubt that we should adopt rq24 over rq23.  The only question  
> in my mind is when.  The reorganization process has left us with  
> areas in which rq24's narrative lapses entirely into @@Todo notes,  
> whereas rq23 is rambly but at least complete.  For this reason, I'd  
> hesitate to say at this moment that rq24 is actually a better  
> document, in the sense of being the best exposition of SPARQL for the  
> public  It certainly doesn't strike me as CR-quality.
> The key issue seems to be whether it's more important to give the  
> public the most polished account of SPARQL (rq23) or the most up-to- 
> date account of its evolution (rq24).  I favor choosing the latter  
> and going with rq24 because I believe that the holes in it won't take  
> too long to patch, eliminating the only reason I see for sticking  
> with rq23.  My ideal scenario would be for one more editoral pass to  
> take place before adopting rq24.  At the very least, I think that  
> sections 1.2 and 2.5 should be either filled out or commented out,  
> and that the internal links broken in the course of the  
> reorganization should be mechanically checked and then corrected [6] 
> [7].  However, if the document were to drop back to WD status I feel  
> that immediately adopting rq24 as-is would also be acceptable.

Links fixed and rq24 currently validates and passes "tidy -e".

> -----
> Now, on to the dull details of how I actually did the comparison.  I  
> drew myself a diagram of how the sections in rq23 were permuted to  
> obtain rq24.  I tried to group and summarize the changes at a  
> meaningful level, trying to reverse engineer the editors' intentions  
> for the reorganization.
> * Text from the beginning of rq23.2 moved to rq24.1.2 (Document  
> Outline).  Having an outline is a good idea, and I agree with Lee  
> that it belongs before the section on Document Conventions.  The only  
> issue I take here is that another few sentences need to written to  
> fill out the new section and (trivially) the numbering needs to be  
> corrected.
> * The previous rq23.2 (Making Simple Queries) and rq23.3 (Working  
> with RDF Literals) received the brunt of the changes, reorganized  
> into four new chapters.
> * The new rq24.2 provides a series of example queries without  
> detailed specification.  For the most most part this involved  
> migrating specification text elsewhere (rq23.2.1.1 through rq23.2.8)  
> and gathering the examples from rq23.3.1 and rq23.3.2.  I think the  
> idea of tossing a bunch of examples at the reader right at the outset  
> does a lot to frame the specifications that follow later.  O'Reilly  
> built of publishing empire on this editorial principle.  :)
> * The concrete syntax of triple patterns is then specified in rq24.3,  
> with material drawn from rq23.2.1.1-4, and the abstract syntax and  
> semantics  in rq24.4 with material from rq23.2.2-4 and  
> rq23.2.8.4-5.    I personally don't think dividing the abstract and  
> concrete syntax into two chapters is helpful; I'd prefer to see these  
> two interspersed, with each individual feature's concrete and  
> abstract syntax treated together.  Without any concrete syntax  
> examples, the entirety of rq24.4 is rather difficult to understand.   
> I'd suggest a better division would be to put the concrete and  
> abstract syntax details (currently rq24.3 through rq24.4.2) into  
> chapter 3, and the semantics of what qualifies as a solution to a  
> pattern (currently rq24.4.3-5) into chapter 4.

This has always been an area where personal tastes differ.  Some people just 
want the abstract definitions without syntax - the sec 3 / sec 4 split is an 
attempt to be like where the most people want the divide.  There is a 
reasonable amount of syntax detail to be covered and so interspersing 
definitions (a bit like rq23 does) has a negative effect.

We could, later, put more grammar extracts into sec 4 but it already has the 
key ones (triple patterns and filter).

> * rq23.2.5 (Basic Graph Patterns) becomes its own chapter rq24.5.   
> The semantics of what qualifies as a graph solution is a pretty core  
> topic and certainly deserves its own chapter.  I suspect there'd be  
> benefit in drawing in material from rq24.4.3-5 on triple pattern  
> solutions into this chapter, so that the entire process of filtered  
> basic graph pattern is in one spot.
> * I didn't note any substantial change to chapters rq23.4-6, other  
> than being renumbered as rq24.6-8.

They have only been moved around.

> * The chapters on datasets rq23.7,8,9 have been consolidated as  
> rq24.9 (RDF Dataset). Putting all the stuff about querying multiple  
> graphs at once into the one chapter seems a definite improvement.
> * The preamble to Appendix A (before the EBNF meat of it, in A.7) has  
> been reorganized.  This seems to be a modest improvement; I don't  
> have any strong opinions about it.
> -----
> My goal was to compare rq23 and rq24 rather than to proofread either  
> of them, but some collateral proofreading happened anyway and might  
> as well be captured:
> * Section rq24.1.2 appears out of sequence.
> * Section rq24.2.2 concludes with the statement "all the variables  
> used in the query pattern must be bound in every solution."  I'm not  
> entirely certain this is correct; is a variable which has been  
> projected away (in this particular case, ?x) still bound in that  
> particular solution?
> * There's a forward reference to CONSTRUCT at the beginning of  
> rq24.2.7 which probably can't be avoided, but at least ought to be  
> linked to rq24.10.3
> * EBNF fragments of the grammar appear throughout rq24.3.  It would  
> probably help to add a link to the format used for these (XML 1.1  
> section 6) in rq24.1.1 (Document Conventions) rather than (or in  
> addition to) the link at the beginning of rq24.A.7.  (On closer  
> inspection, I see a @@ note in rq21.1.2 which indicates the editors  
> have already thought of this, although not quite in the place I  
> expected.)
> * The link to #syntaxMisc in section rq24.3.2 is broken: "there are  
> abbreviated ways of writing some common triple pattern constructs."   
> It might helpful to add some text noting that these abbreviations are  
> all adapted from Turtle, with a link.
> * The grammar rules throughout of rq24.10 are empty.

I'm waiting for the grammar to be settled - the extracts are a copy so when 
the grammar changes, everything gets upset.  I included some examples to show 
where it would go.  So far, no one has said "does not work for me".

> * The comment just before rq24.A.1 "rules A.1 to A.5 apply" should  
> probably include A.6 as well.

Can't find this any more.  Must have got editorialized (it was in rq23 - the 
EBNF note went in A.7 close to use).

> * A link in rq24.A.7 to #Keywords is now broken, since rq23.A.3 has  
> been moved to the beginning of rq24.A.7: "Matching is case-sensitive  
> except as noted above for keywords."


> As a final miscellaneous observation, the section headings do not  
> make it easy to look up a particular keyword.  It might be more  
> useful to name rq24.3.1.1 as "PREFIX and BASE", rq24.7 as "OPTIONAL",  
> rq24.9.2.1 as "FROM", rq24.10.3 as "CONSTRUCT" and so forth, or  
> perhaps to use longer section titles combining the keyword and  
> description, e.g. "Matching Alternatives using UNION".

Added an @@ to do that.  The timescale for publiication means it won't be done 
in time.

> The first paragraph of thet Abstract would fit better in rq24.1  
> (Introduction).

I prefer it where it is because then the intro just assumes RDF.  But let's 
consider when the rest is done and the abstract/intro can be tuned.


> -----
> References:
> [1] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/DataAccess/rq23/ (revision 1.692)
> [2] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/DataAccess/rq23/rq24.html (revision 1.17)
> [3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-rdf-dawg/2006JulSep/ 
> 0107.html
> [4] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-rdf-dawg/2006JulSep/ 
> 0108.html
> [5] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-rdf-dawg/2006JulSep/ 
> 0109.html
> [6] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/DataAccess/rq23/rq24.html#Keywords
> [7] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/DataAccess/rq23/rq24.html#syntaxMisc
Received on Wednesday, 13 September 2006 14:30:48 UTC

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