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Re: A Rough Guide to Notation3

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@mysterylights.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 17:45:45 +0100
Message-ID: <013a01c24ac4$892453e0$7eba0150@localhost>
To: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Cc: <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>

> I have a serious problem with a document on N3 that starts
> out saying that N3 is a ``shorthand non-XML serialization of
> RDF''. I view this statement as wrong and, worse, completely
> misleading.

Huh? It clearly *is* a shorthand non-XML serialization of RDF, and much
more besides. The fact that I don't *mention* the extra baggage that comes
along in the N3 suitcase does not mean that the statement in the document
is false. If P & Q, and I only state P and say nothing about Q, how is P
suddenly false? If I'd have said that N3 is *only* an alternate
serialization of XML/RDF, perhaps you'd have a case.

In fact, had you spotted it, you would have been correct to take me up on
the grounds that N3 is not really a superset of XML/RDF; it doesn't yet
have the xml"" literal constructs. But that is a minor point, and one that
seems likely to change in the near future (read the section entitled "Typed
Literals").

However, seeing as how this document is intended to be helpful to people
wanting to learn more about N3, it may well behove me to re-write the
introduction.

> The document goes on to state that N3 ``forms a good
> introduction into [sic]

Me and my nonce idiomatizations :-)

> [...] if you count among the key principles of the Semantic Web
> a lack of both syntax and semantics, then I'll go along with this
> statement, but I would hope that the Semantic Web would not
> continue to espouse these principles.

Format fight! Everybody start throwing BNF! :-)

Notation3's shortcomings speak for themselves. It isn't stable, there is no
central specification for it, and for a long time there were huge i18n
issues. However, it is possible to round trip (modulo xml"" literals) from
XML/RDF to Notation3 back to XML/RDF again. For all these features, the RDF
Model Theory applies. For all the extensions, I agree that
specification-standard verbiage from TimBL would be extremely helpful, but
it's not going to happen. If you use Notation3, you have to put up with
that.

As for the syntax, there are many irregularities between the various N3
grammars. I have done a detailed survey on this very point, and have noted
it many times. However, the consensus is strong enough for Notation3 to
have utility in a number of applications. No one is forcing anyone else to
use it, and you can simply ignore it if you choose. But there are an ever
increasing number of people that find Notation3 to be useful to them in
some way.

The /2002/notation3/ document was only intended to be a list of helpful
notes to people wanting to learn Notation3; note that I called it a "rough
guide" rather than a "fully polished guide". It was not intended to start
yet-another-serialization-war, and I suggest that anybody who wants to
journey into that rathole again ought to take it to www-archive (the email
equivalent of /dev/null, except it's archived).

--
Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
@prefix : <http://purl.org/net/swn#> .
:Sean :homepage <http://purl.org/net/sbp/> .
Received on Friday, 23 August 2002 12:45:51 GMT

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