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Re: Simplified proposal for string literals

From: Guus Schreiber <guus.schreiber@vu.nl>
Date: Wed, 18 May 2011 16:08:10 +0200
Message-ID: <4DD3D2CA.3050603@vu.nl>
To: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
CC: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, RDF Working Group WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>


On 18/05/2011 14:56, Richard Cyganiak wrote:
> On 17 May 2011, at 23:57, Pat Hayes wrote:
>> As my proposed extension to rdf:PlainLIteral seems to have fallen on deaf ears, allow me to suggest a simplified version of it which might be more acceptable. There are two versions. In the first, plain literals are no longer strings. so the current equivalence between "string" and "string"^^xsd:string no longer applies. The second keeps this equivalence.
>>
>> Veraion A
> (snip)
>
> Version A seems to make matters worse, as "foo" and "foo"^^xsd:string are still both allowed, are still distinct in the abstract syntax, but now actually are semantically different as well for no reason.
>
>> Version B
>>
>> 1.  rdf:PlainLIteral is a unique special datatype, built into basic RDF (along with rdf:XMLLIteral) with a special, unique formulation. It applies to plain literal syntax, which is thought of as specifying either a character string, or a pair of a string and a language tag.  The L2V mapping of this datatype takes both strings and pairs<string, tag>  to themselves, ie it is the identity mapping on strings and on pairs.
>> Put another way, the datatype value of "string" is  string  and of "string"@tag is<string, tag>.
>> Every plain literal in RDF has the datatype rdf:PlainLIteral, even though this name is not used explicitly in the literal syntax.
>>
>> 2. rdf:PlainLIteral MUST NOT be used as an explicit datatype name in any RDF literal of the form "string"^^datatype. LIterals of the form "string@tag"^^rdf:PlainLiteral MUST be rewritten as a plain literal "string"@tag or flagged as an error.
>>
>> 3. "string" and "string"^^xsd:string are equivalent, so to avoid equality reasoning, the datatype xsd:string is deprecated in RDF. RDF SHOULD NOT use xsd:string as a datatype in typed literals, and applications MAY rewrite any literal typed with xsd:strong as a plain literal with no language tag.
>
> Version B seems to be quite similar in its practical implications to the earlier proposal of allowing xsd:string typed literals to also have a language tag in the abstract syntax:
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-rdf-wg/2011May/0175.html
>
> Except Version B has two disadvantages over that proposal.
>
> First, it standardizes on rdf:PlainLiteral, deprecating the well-known xsd:string; while the other proposal standardizes on xsd:string, keeping rdf:PlainLiteral only in its current fringe role as compatibility band-aid for systems that can't handle the presence of language tags. (see footnote 1)
>
> Second, it retains "foo" and "foo"^^xsd:string as distinct in the abstract syntax (they become "foo"^^rdf:PlainLiteral and "foo"^^xsd:string). This means there are still two triples, and implementations may or may not rewrite one to the other, with all the disadvantages that Eric discussed. In the other proposal, both "foo" and "foo"^^xsd:string would become "foo"^^xsd:string in the abstract syntax, and one would only find "foo"^^rdf:PlainLiteral in systems that can't represent "foo"^^xsd:string@en.
>

I must admit I still like proposal B for the following, mainly pragmatic,  reasons:

- plain literals have become something RDF users are accustomed to
- even though rdf:PlainLiteral is prominent in the proposal, it stays in the 
background. For example, we wouldn't need to mention it in the Primer, as far as 
I can see.
- the problems you mention with the double triples should diminish through 
deprecation.

For what it's worth ....

Guus

> So I'd argue that the proposal linked above, amended according to footnote 1, is preferable over Version B.
>
> Footnote 1: The proposal linked above suggests to completely remove rdf:PlainLiteral. That doesn't work, it has to be kept as a compatibility band-aid, like it is now.
>
> Best,
> Richard
>
>
>>
>> --------
>>
>> Either way, this keeps existing plain literal syntax exactly as it is at present, does not require anyone to rewrite any up-front code, and retains the rdf:PlainLIteral typing without getting involved with the trailing-@ messiness. It  requires one exception in the RDF semantics to allow this slightly nonstandard datatype, but I don't think this is of any importance at all, especially as the L2V mapping is so trivial. It will require short changes to Concepts and Semantics, and a quick check over Testcases, but we will be doing this anyway.
>>
>> FWIW, I marginally prefer  version B, as it settles the xsd:string business once and for all. But only marginally.
>>
>> Pat
>>
>>
>>
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>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>

-- 
Prof. Guus Schreiber
Web & Media, Computer Science
VU University Amsterdam
http://www.cs.vu.nl/~guus
Received on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 14:08:36 GMT

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