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

The RDF model *is* part of the problem

From: David Megginson <david@megginson.com>
Date: 29 Feb 2000 00:46:05 -0500
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org, xml-dev@xml.org
Message-ID: <m3snycmuhu.fsf_-_@localhost.localdomain>
"Perry A. Caro" <caro@adobe.com> writes:

[snipped way out of context]

> RDF may fail the using part without understanding all criteria --
> lack of full understanding of the model can get you into trouble.

> When I help people who are having a hard time understanding the
> model, I use this approach.  The interesting bits of the full
> directed graph can often be transformed into ordinary trees without
> loss of information, each rooted at a node that was originally
> identified with an rdf:about attribute.

I agree, but I'd take it much further -- I find that the people I work
with (many of them software developers, granted) find the RDF model
terribly confusing, but light bulbs go on when I tell them to compare
a Java interface

  public interface Person
    public String getId ();
    public String getName ();
    public Date getBirthDate ();
    public String getNationality ();
    public Person getFather ();
    public Person getMother ();

with an RDF instance

  <acme:Person rdf:about="http://www.acme.com/ids/0001">
    <acme:name>Jane Smith</acme:name>
    <acme:father rdf:resource="http://www.acme.com/ids/0002"/>
    <acme:mother rdf:resource="http://www.acme.com/ids/0002"/>

When they realize that RDF is just a way to serialize objects in XML,
and that they can safely ignore all of the bizarre pseudo-grammatical
and pseudo-KR terminology (sometimes after several wasted days
puzzling over it), they warm up to RDF a little.

The model is a little less threatening to database people because it
looks a tiny bit like relational tables (though incompletely

David Megginson                 david@megginson.com
Received on Tuesday, 29 February 2000 08:22:42 UTC

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