W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > August 2000

Instant RDF

From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@upclink.com>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 09:57:18 -0500
To: RDF Interest <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B5CAA1FD.17724%aswartz@upclink.com>
The most recent hypertext version of this proposal may be found at:

RDF is based on a data model of triples, allowing one to make simple
statements. Here's is an example of an RDF triple:

Aaron -Author-> http://my.theinfo.org/rdf/

In XML, this triple could be expressed one of many ways (thanks to TimBL for
the examples), including:



<document href="http://my.theinfo.org/rdf/" author="Aaron" />

However, none of these can be interpreted as valid RDF. In the W3C's RDF
spec, they also defined a special syntax for expressing these triples. In
this syntax, the triple would look like this:

  <rdf:Description about="http://my.theinfo.org/rdf/">

Many find this syntax to be confusing and cumbersome. It is also a far cry
from normal XML syntax, making it incompatible with already existing XML
formats. It is also incompatible with DTDs and XML Schema since elements
like <rdf:Description> are used to contain many different types of items.

Tim Berners-Lee made a strawman proposal for a simple RDF syntax, which
inspired Sergey Melnik to create his own version. Both these formats have
vast improvements over the RDF syntax, but still are not backwards
compatible with older XML formats.

What is needed is a way to allow RDF parsers to extract RDF triples from
regular XML. This would be an amazing boost for RDF, allowing any existing
XML format to be easily used as RDF information.

I'd prefer to be able to be able to write an additional document instructing
RDF parsers to convert my normal XML to RDF triples. Thus, I could keep my
treasured XML syntax, allowing me to continue using whatever XML parsers I
had written for it, as well as being able to use tools like DTDs and XML
Schemas. Meanwhile, RDF parsers could also interpret my document as RDF,
gaining me all the benefits of the format. Everybody wins.

I am not qualified to propose a syntax to allow this translation to occur,
but I believe that XSLT would work fine (please correct me if I'm wrong).

What do you think of this proposal? Please reply with your comments and

Aaron Swartz <aswartz@upclink.com>|   <http://www.theinfo.org>
<http://www.swartzfam.com/aaron/> | community of knowledge-workers
 AIM: Jedi of Pi | ICQ: 33158237  |     - Douglas Englebart
Received on Thursday, 24 August 2000 10:57:44 UTC

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